From a derby weekend to a whole batch of World Cup qualifiers, it has been another relentless week in world football.
The transfer window came to a close and Gareth Bale, after the protracted saga to end all protracted sagas, moved from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid, who had been interested in acquiring him for a long time.
Emotions have run high during an intense and emotional seven days, and it goes without saying that football’s key actors—its protagonists and its clowns—have chipped in with their two cents.
England may have impressed against Moldova, but the spectre of Ukraine looms on the horizon. The Yellow-Blues will be an altogether different challenge.
Frank Lampard, who could well win his 100th cap in the crucial fixture, was realistic about the task awaiting the team. Speaking about the Kiev clash he said: "We'll go there conscious they're a strong team but confident in our own abilities. We've got the team to get a result, no doubt," as reported by Sky Sports.
Roy Hodgson will require not only Lampard, but also his other senior players to be at their very best in order to retain the initiative in the race for Brazil.
One man who is not afraid of the Three Lions’ arrival is Ukraine’s veteran midfielder Antoliy Tymoshchuk. The former Bayern man was quick to dismiss England’s arrival and advocate the merits of his own teammates, with Sky Sports reporting the midfielder as saying: "England might have names that all football fans know around Europe, but Ukraine are better."
Tymoshchuk, who was incredibly flippant about the failings of Hodgson’s men seemingly has a short-term memory—he was present as his countrymen were defeated on home soil during Euro 2012.
In a signing that went under the radar somewhat, Swansea City allowed their South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung to slip off to Sunderland on loan.
It is a big season for Ki, who will hope to convince Hong Myung-Bo of his worth to the national side ahead of the World Cup, following some disciplinary issues earlier in the year.
If it’s the “straight and narrow” he’s after, then Sunderland, under disciplinarian Paolo Di Canio, might be the ideal venue for the Asian midfielder.
Indeed, Ki said this week that Di Canio is one of the key reasons he opted to switch to the North East. Not for the Italian’s strictness however, that may come as a shock. "When I was a kid, I saw him playing and I'm really looking forward to working with him as a manager of this team," Ki told the Sunderland Echo (via Sky Sports).
For an aficionado of the African game, and as someone who writes extensively about Nigerian football, the final days of the transfer window were intriguing.
Three Nigerian players changed hands among Premier League teams, and the trio will be keen to make a major impact over the coming months.
Victor Anichebe, born in Lagos but an Everton player for over a decade, left the Toffees, the only club he has ever played for, for a fresh challenge at West Bromwich Albion.
Speaking about his move from Merseyside, where new boss Roberto Martinez has recruited Romelu Lukaku and Arouna Kone to support Nikica Jelavic, Anichebe told Sky Sports: "It was a wrench and there were moments even when I was driving down when I thought, 'is this the right decision?"
Certainly, a fresh start brings much uncertainty for the Nigerian—who has often promised to deliver so much.
At the Albion he will be replacing Peter Odemwingie, who fell out with the WBA faithful so spectacularly following his attempted transfer to QPR last January.
The forward appeared keen to forget his past misdemeanours upon arriving at Cardiff, as reported by The Sun (subscription required): "I'd like to thank the West Brom fans and staff for everything. I'll definitely take with me the positives and great memories"
Anichebe will be hoping to make a much more positive impact on the Baggies fans.
A final Nigerian intra-Premier League move saw star Super Eagles striker Victor Moses move from Chelsea to Liverpool on loan.
The move represents a promising decision for all involved; Moses receives the chance to play for another elite club in the EPL, Chelsea are able to see another of their investments flourish on loan, rather than rot in their reserve side, and Liverpool receive the services of one of Africa’s finest frontmen.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Moses revealed the role that fellow forward Daniel Sturridge played in getting him to Anfield:
He said I'd love it here, but he didn't need to say much. The next morning, I had a word with my agent and told him it could be the right move for me.
Greg Dyke’s comments last week concerning Premier League recruitment have forged battle-lines throughout the English top flight.
Rio Ferdinand was quick to support the FA chairman, agreeing with him that the country’s major sides needed to rid themselves of a reliance on foreign imports.
Lately, Damien Comolli—who has held senior positions at both Tottenham and Liverpool—joined the debate.
The Frenchman pulled no punches in his dissection of Dyke’s comments and didn’t hesitate in pointing the finger at other areas of weakness to the Sunday People (via Sky Sports): "I thought Greg Dyke's speech was very poor. The FA needs to produce better quality coaches, and more of them."
It’s taken a while, but the long and winding road that always looked like leading to Florentino Perez’s door finally arrived at its destination as Gareth Bale made his inevitable switch to the Bernabeu.
While his transfer brings one extended narrative to a close, football’s domino effect meant that many more spring forth.
How will Cristiano Ronaldo respond to another ego, a more expensive one at that, prowling around the dressing room? Will Bale’s teammates hold him in any way responsible for the departure of Mesut Ozil? Will the Welshman name his next child after Carlo Ancelotti having chosen to pay homage to Andre Villas-Boas via his firstborn?
So many questions, but we leave the last word to Gareth, who, with a thousand microphones and eager journalists hanging on his every utterance, decided to say this about his switch to Madrid.
In an exclusive interview with BT Sport (via Eurosport) Bale said, “It was a long time. It was very stressful to say the least.”
Thanks Gareth, you certainly said the least.