With all eyes focused on South Africa and the fantastic World Cup, it is easy to overlook the fact that it is transfer season in European soccer and that some big name players are at new addresses, with much more to follow after the World Cup ends.
Longtime Chelsea star Michael Ballack returns to Germany on a free transfer to Bayer Leverkusen. Ballack, 33, was unable to play on the successful German squad in the World Cup because of injury. The midfielder, born in what was then East Germany, will strengthen a Bayer Leverkusen side that finished fourth in the Bundesliga in the 2009-2010 season. Ballack was the captain for Germany before his injury and has 98 international caps. Chelsea has bought Israeli internationsl Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool to give them midfield depth.
It was announced today that YaYa Toure will join his brother Kolo on the Manchester City squad for the 2010-2011 season, after transferring from FC Barcelona. The Ivory Coast international has 53 caps for his country, and appeared in 74 games for Barcelona since 2007. Before that, Toure featured at Monaco and Olympiacos. This is on top of the news of Spanish midfielder David Silva’s 32 million Euro transfer from Valencia to City and Hamburg SV’s Jerome Boateng for 10 million . Silva, the talented left-footer, will join City after Spain’s run in World Cup action. Boateng, playing for Germany, featured against his brother, Kevin-Prince Boateng of Ghana, on June 23, in probably the first case of brothers facing each other in World Cup action for opposing countries. Roberto Mancini’s City side seem to be making every effort to stockpile talent and establish themselves as an elite Premier League club. City unloaded crafty Bulgarian winger Martin Petrov to Bolton Wanderers, and are rumored to be interested in obtaining French star Karim Benzema from Real Madrid.
In transfer news closer to home, Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan joined Anderlecht, the Belgian powerhouse. Kljestan had 114 appearances for Chivas USA and 24 caps for the national team, but his career seemed to stall after he failed to sign with Scotland’s iconic Celtic club after a trial there in January, 2009. Kljestan was not chosen for the 2010 US Men’s National Team that went to South Africa. The 24 year-old, however, should benefit from playing in Europe and will get a chance for Champions League play with the Belgian champions. His brother, Gordon, plays for the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies of USSF D2.
Even closer to home, St. Louis area native Frankie Simek has gone to Carlisle United on a free transfer from Sheffield Wednesday. The 25 year-old defender had made 119 appearances for the Championship side Owls since 2005, but had fallen into disfavor and rarely saw the pitch last winter and spring. Simek’s career has also been interupted by injury. Simek, who has 5 internationals caps for the USA, signed a 2 year deal with the League One club.