(Good evening folks. Most of you have already scoured through Wednesday’s transfer news so you probably have read about some of these transfers, but for those of you who haven’t had time, or are like us and were busy with MLS news, here are some European transfer stories for you. SBI correspondent Carl Setterlund catches us up on the transfer market.)
Cesc Fabregas got a little bit lonelier today in the Arsenal midfield, as the Gunners sold off two more key players, Alexander Hleb and Gilberto Silva, that after already losing playmaker Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer to Milan early in the summer.
The bigger of the two losses comes in Hleb, an attacking midfielder that can also play on the wings. Immediately following Ronaldinho’s departure to Italy, Barca announced it had signed Hleb for a fee of €15 million ($23.7 million), with another €2 million in add-ons depending on the team’s success.
The 27-year old Belarus captain moves to the Camp Nou following perhaps his best season for Arsenal, and he should provide an immediate impact in the new-look Barca midfield. Hleb is the first attack-oriented signing in an offseason that has seen the Blaugrana already add defenders Dani Alves, Martin Cáceres and Gerard Piqué and midfielder Seydou Keita.
Gilberto Silva headed to Panathinaikos
Adding to the sting of losing Hleb, Arsene Wenger today also sold off former vice-captain Gilberto Silva to Athens-based club Panathinaikos, widely regarded as the second-best team in Greece. The 31-year-old Brazil international demanded an impressive fee of £7.9 million ($15.8 million) despite not playing regularly last term. New Panathinaikos manager Henk Ten Cate is said to be a big fan, perhaps getting a good look at Gilberto as the Chelsea assistant manager over the past season.
It seemed that the versatile defensive midfielder fell out of favor at the Emirates after voicing his displeasure at being passed over as captain for William Gallas after Thierry Henry departed. Perhaps it was just the plethora of young talent that the Gunners had in midfield that did him in, but one thought Wenger might have found use for Gilberto in a group that now includes just Fabregas, Tomáš RosickÃ½ and Samir Nasri in terms of proven starters. This is just speculation, but with the appropriate funds and the need present it would make even more sense for Wenger to pursue Gareth Barry now.
Inter swoops for Mancini
Jose Mourinho made his first major move as Inter manager, but it wasn’t to secure the services of Frank Lampard, as the Nerazzurri swooped in to steal away Roma midfielder Mancini for a cost of €13 million ($20.6 million). The 27-year-old did the only Italian upgrade possible, moving from the club that has finished second-place in Serie A three years running to the club that his finished top of the table the past three years.
The dynamic Brazilian international will be sorely missed by the Giallorossi, especially since he moves to a league rival. Mancini could figure in to be the eventual heir to the ageless Luis Figo, but there should be enough space for both on the same field in the mean time. While Lampard remains a target, Mancini’s signing likely takes Inter out of the Ricardo Quaresma sweepstakes. No truth to the rumor that the Mancini deal is owner Massimo Moratti’s way of apologizing for sacking former manager Roberto Mancini after back to back to back first-place finishes.
What’s your take on Arsenal’s midfield situation? How will Hleb, Gilberto and Mancini fit into their respective new clubs? Share your thoughts below.