With teams starting their preseason training and transfer season slowing down it is time to see which clubs helped themselves the most this offseason. It has been a tumultuous offseason in which the value of players skyrocketed thanks in large part to the white shirted team from the Spanish Capital. It was an offseason in which the world’s top players seemed to dismiss the Premier League for the warm comfort of Spain’s La Liga.
This is the most obvious entry. No team has helped themselves more this summer than Los Blancos. They have not only added the last two FIFA World Player of the Year recipients, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo, but they have added the best player from the French League, the young 21 year old striker Karim Benzema, and a very capable Spanish defender in Raul Albiol to shore up the back four.
After failing to win a trophy last season, the return of Florentino Perez to Madrid made this a historic summer for Madrid as they spent a record amount of money on transfer fees. They acquired the best player from the Premier League, Cristiano Ronaldo, the best player from Serie A, Kaka, and the best player from the French League, Karim Benzema.
Clearly Perez is working on an ambitious project to help Madrid return to the summit of World Football.
Barcelona have helped themselves here more so because of what they have not done. They are the best team in the world because they have great players, great chemistry, and a great youth system. There was no need to spend out Madridesque money to improve their squad.
The only signing that was greatly rumored to move to Camp Nou has been David Villa. If Barcelona does manage to add Villa it would certainly be a tremendous acquisition for the Catalan giants, as they would be adding the best Spanish striker in the world.
Usually it’s the Old Trafford side that makes the noise during the transfer season, but more and more recently it’s becoming the team that wears the light blue kit that has been improving their squad the most. Last summer’s purchase of Robinho from Real Madrid signaled the beginning of Manchester City’s attempt to break into the top four.
This summer they have made tremendous strides toward becoming a better club. Their most important acquisition has been Carlos Tevez from Manchester United. Not only are United a worse team without Tevez, but Manchester City are getting another established forward to improve their squad. Aside from Tevez, City brought in Roque Santa Cruz who has made a name for himself as one of the best goal scorers in the Premier League, and he is certain to get used to life quickly at Manchester City.
City have also improved the center of their midfield by bringing in Gareth Barry. They are going to need someone capable of bringing the ball up to their suddenly powerful forwards and Barry fits the bill.
Their most recent signing has been Emmanuel Adebayor from Arsenal. This is a tremendous acquisition because Adebayor is certainly an imposing presence in the box. He is already established in the Premier League, and he is just another reason why Manchester City are becoming closer and closer toward breaking into the top four.
Liverpool got better here mostly because Manchester United got worse. Liverpool finished in second place, just behind Manchester United in last season’s Premier League. Now they have added, although for a high sum, a solid defender in Glenn Johnson to shore up their defense, Liverpool look to be the favorites to regain the Premier League title.
It has been hard for the Merseyside club to watch as their arch-rivals from Manchester went on their streak. However, with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez from Old Trafford, it will be a daunting task for Manchester United to retain their trophy.
When two players who have combined to score 102 goals over the last two season leave your team, you know your team is going to get worse. Manchester United have sold the best player on their team, Cristiano Ronaldo, to the Spanish Capital for the large sum of 131 million dollars.
While it seemed as if Sir Alex Ferguson would be able to redesign his club with that money as he has done so many times before, Ferguson’s summer strategy has been puzzling to say the least. Ferguson shied away from the big names such as Benzema, Aguero, and Ibrahimovich and instead signed 23 year old Ecuadorian international Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen in the final part of his career, and hit or miss French starlet Gabriel Obertan.
While Michael Owen should be able to contribute to the offense if he can stay healthy the other two signings make little to no sense. Manchester United will have to rebuild their offense around Wayne Rooney. They will try to employ some of the same tactics that Fabio Capello has used to perfection in England’s World Cup Qualifying.
However I’m not sure how Valencia fits into that new strategy. Valencia has plenty of pace on the wing, but he is a pure winger, which is certainly very different from Ronaldo. He will face the tremendous expectations of filling the large boots of the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year. Valencia is very weak on his crossing skills and I’m not sure how that will translate into his play with Rooney and Berbatov.
After Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that he is done spending this summer, and leaving much of that 80 million in the warchest, it certainly seems as if he has his work cut out for him.
Arsenal have not made an impact this summer aside from selling Emmanuel Adebayor. They are going to continue Arsene Wenger’s ambitious youth project in London while trying to catch up to Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United.
They have a very solid nucleus to work around, but it seem as if they will be fighting Manchester United for third and fourth place as Manchester City looms in the dark.
This has not been a very good offseason for the third place team in the Premier League. Chelsea ended their season on a sad note after losing in heartbreaking fashion to Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal. While Chelsea have a strong team, their owner has repeatedly said that he wanted to bring in one big name.
Chelsea have been linked with the likes of Ibrahimovich, Ribery, and others, but so far there has been no significant improvements to the club. Also there has been the fact that John Terry refuses to clarify his future with the rampant rumors that Manchester City are preparing a third bid for the Chelsea captain. If Chelsea were to lose Terry it would be a devastating blow.
The Blues will still be there to battle Liverpool for the League title, but they have done little, except bringing in the untested Yuri Zhirkov.
As much as I love to see Oguchi Onyewu test his luck in the Serie A the loss of Kaka is a devastating blow to the Milan giants. Their fans have been protesting the sale of Kaka as well as the rumors surrounding the rest of their players.
They are very lucky to have heard Alexandre Pato confirm his future with the club, but they have been unable to greatly improve their side. Once the sale for Brazilian forward Luis Fabiano is completed, Milan will have a very capable attack with Fabiano and Pato.
Also Ronaldinho vows to make up for the loss of Kaka, although it is hard to count on him. It still figures to be a close race between Milan and Inter for the Serie A title once again.