By Kevin Koczwara
David Villa — Before the World Cup Barcelona made one of the biggest splashes in the transfer market of the summer. Villa’s move to Barcelona could be the best deal of the summer for both player and club. Villa’s asking price would have sky-rocketed after he helped Spain win the World Cup with his team leading and competition-tying five goals, but the Catalans got him for a fair price from Valencia. Villa will fit into the Barcelona squad with ease — I mean it consists mostly of Spain’s World Cup and Euro 2008 winning side that he helped lead.
David Silva and Yaya Toure — Although neither player was cheap, Silva and Toure are two world class players heading to Manchester this season, and not to United. City paid a lot for both players and will have to sell some of their fringe, but very good, players because of the new rules in the Premier League regarding squad size.
Toure brings a winning mentality from Barcelona. He is a supremely talented anchor in the any midfield and his power and skill will be on display in the Premier League. His age (27-years old) will come into question and so will the amount of holding midfielders that Mancinni has brought in — where to play them all?
Silva has been on just about every top club’s radar for a few years now. His skill on the ball and pace off of it have made him a hot commodity. Valencia has finally been willing to let him and Villa go to new pastures, but for large sums of money after a few summers of transfer rumors. Silva is another attacking weapon for City and a winger to play opposite of the promising Adam Johnson. The big question will have to be how he deals with the unrelenting physical nature of the Premier League, it could be his undoing.
Efraín Juárez — Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been looking to bring in new, passionate blood to Glasgow, and with Juárez he has done that. The 22-year-old Mexican International played at this summer’s World Cup, briefly, and looks to have a bright future. For the price Lennon paid this could be one of the best deals of the summer for any squad in search of young, promising defenders, a commodity every club desires. Juárez also has the ability to play midfield roles, which Lennon could use since some of the newer additions are backs.
Angel Di Maria — The former Benfica winger made his move to Real Madrid while still playing for Argentina at the World Cup. His move to the Los Blancos couldn’t have come at a better time. The 22-year-old has bundles of skill and is heading into a positive situation at Real Madrid. The club has acquired the services of the already legendary manager Jose Mourinho and Di Maria is playing alongside some of the world’s premier attacking players, so there will not be too much pressure on the youngster this season, but there will be soon if he doesn’t break into the first squad and make claim to one of the Madrid wings.
Raul — Real Madrid have said goodbye to one of the club’s legends, Raul, as he looks to be heading to Bundesliga side Schalke, after agreeing to personal terms. Raul holds almost all of Real Madrid’s scoring records and has been the face of the club for 16 seasons. The 33-year-old has been a one club kind of player, playing all 16 seasons of his professional career at the Bernabéu. Schalke are lucky to get Raul’s signature on a free transfer as his contract ran up at the end of last season because Real Madrid and the player have both been reluctant to end their time with one another.
Joe Cole — Liverpool fans have been looking for a ray of hope since the middle of last season when the club was struggling to keep pace for a place in Europe, but not the Champions League, after finishing a close second the season before. Could Joe Cole’s signature and the hiring of Roy Hodgson be what the club and the fans need? It will be some time before we know the impact of the former Chelsea and West Ham player on the squad because the season doesn’t kick-off for a few weeks and Cole will need time to adapt to his new surroundings.
Cole’s move is important for the financially strapped Liverpool club, he came on a free transfer and didn’t cost the club money to bring him in. Liverpool need more quality players and Cole’s move will be fruitful for both sides: Cole needs more first-team soccer and Liverpool needs more quality players on the cheap side.
Dan Gosling — While Everton try and figure out just what happened and how to get some compensation from Dan Gosling’s free move to Newcastle, Gosling will be enjoying a new contract at St. James Park and Newcastle will be feeling like they really scored a key player in their fight to stay in the EPL, again.
Gosling was allowed to walk out of Everton despite being one of the club’s prized young assets because paper work was fouled up in the offices of Goodison Park, and David Moyes will not be a happy camper because the 20-year-old right-back has been tipped to be one of England’s brightest stars in the near future.
For Newcastle, Gosling’s signature is huge. His experience, albeit small, in the Premier League will help the squad in its fight for survival and his expected resale value is something ownership can cash in on in the future.
Thierry Henry — Although Henry’s best days are behind him, his move to Major League Soccer club New York Red Bulls is a major step forward for the new league with big ambitions. May I dare say that Henry’s signature is more important for the league in the long run than that of golden boy David Beckham’s, on a soccer level at least.
Henry is a legend in London and to all Arsenal fans. He wore the Arsenal strip with pride and was a key member of “The Invincibles.” His move to NY is a major coop for the MLS side and the league as it tries to garner world recognition and show its appeal to the rest of the top-tier stars from around the world. Even if the league becomes a last gasp for glory for many of the World’s best players, it is still a stepping stone to success.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing editor and writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesoccerguysonline.com.