A 1-1 draw between Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City started the action in the Championship on Friday with weekend fixtures to follow. It's the Premier League's turn next weekend but expect business to continue right up until the end of the transfer window. Arsenal and Manchester City face off in the Community Shield on Sunday in the top flight's traditional opening act. Three matchdays will have come and gone before the late flurry of unexpected deals as well as near misses. Interestingly, Liverpool's will have played Southampton (home), Manchester City (away), and Tottenham Hotspur (away) in the Premier League before the transfer window closes. Everton host both Arsenal and Chelsea at Goodison Park before August bids farewell so there should be some viscous blood staining blades of grass before the event to end all events called deadline day.
There has been some interesting developments since the last edition with new contracts, transfer signings, and surprises in the land of milk and honey.
More Fever for the Flava?
Aly Cissokho hasn't finished with the Premier League yet and the former Liverpool left-back has returned at Paul Lambert's Aston Villa to presumably replace another loan danger in Ryan Bertrand. Undeserved slights aside, Cissokho is a decent defender but wasn't what Liverpool are looking for moving forward. What was most impressive about Cissokho was his commitment and his professionalism. He could have made unhappy noises at being kept out of the team by a callow right back but seemed focused as well as determined whenever he came on. Aston Villa fans may seem perturbed by the prospect of Alan Hutton and Aly Cissokho as the club's starting full backs but it won't be Cissokho they'll have to worry about.
Valencia will be pleased to shed Cissokho's wages, Cissokho will enjoy the security of a four-year contract at a club where he'll offer plenty of continental experience as well as physicality, and Aston Villa should be delighted to take on a player whose level is at least midtable for the Premier League in a season where the manager needs to show the fans something so that he can keep his job. £2.4 million isn't a bad fee at all, and Cissokho became familiar with the Premier League's peculiar physical and tactical flavours last season.
The long game? I can feel it in my stones.
Yes, really. The previous edition of the transfer round-up looked at Everton's long game and Liverpool's local neighbours are still playing that game impressively as John Stones has signed a new contract. 30k per week and an expiration date of summer 2019 should be a boost for all associated with the club. Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku, Seamus Coleman, Gareth Barry, and Leighton Baines have remained at a club that finished seven points behind the final Champions League (potential) qualifier, Arsenal, in fifth. Everton's Roberto Martínez will attempt to build on the progress made last season with virtually the same quality at his disposal, something that fans often overlook when assessing an emerging club's chances ahead of a new season.
He has admitted that the addition of a wide player is a priority, believed to be Christian Atsu, and confirmed that James McCarthy is in line for a new contract after a productive first season at Everton. Replacing the wing wizardry of Gerard Deulofeu as an option for the squad and retaining a clever and composed young midfielder seem to be the minimum requirements for business in August. If Everton achieve this, another season of progress should be on the menu. Everton have agreed a loan deal for Atsu so it seems there's one task left.
Get battered over two legs and go through to the next round.
This is fantastic. Marvellous. Liverpool and Celtic fans have long argued over who sang You'll Never Walk Alone first. The legendary pre-match anthem binds the two clubs and King Kenny too. Well Celtic might still join Liverpool in the Champions League despite a 6-1 aggregate mauling by Legia Warszawa because the Polish club fielded an ineligible player in the second leg of the Champions League third qualifying round.
The 3 nil walkover granted to Celtic as a result ensured that the Scottish champions go through to the final knockout round on away goals after losing the first leg 4-1 at the Polish Army Stadium. Spare a thought for former Blackburn centre back Henning Berg who is wondering how this could have happened to his side, but the head coach confirmed that the club plans to appeal the decision. Celtic will now play Maribor of Slovenia in a round where Napoli will face Athletic Bilbao and Divock Origi's Lille OSC lock proverbial horns with Portuguese giants FC Porto.
Another expensive Championship striker.
Last month, the round-up looked at the maddening move from Fulham to secure Ross McCormack for £11 million. Now it's Nottingham Forest's turn as Peterborough's Britt Assombalonga has joined the former European Cup winners for a £5.5 million fee. 15 goals in League Two in 2012-2013 and 23 goals in League One in 2013-2014 may drive the fee up for Premier League clubs fighting for his signature but a Championship club like Forest? If he scores the goals that help Forest get promoted then such an investment will pay off and perhaps that's all that matters for Championship clubs desperate to join the "big time" in order to experience a satisfying slice of that Sky and BT money. Still, it doesn't smell or look right but time will inevitably tell.
In other news...
Jack Rodwell wanted to play regularly in his two year spell at Manchester City but said that "it didn't work out like that unfortunately" in what can only presume is that standard football flat tone interview voice. He lacked the first-team football he needed first through injury and later through the realities of being at a big club. Was it even realistic for him to expect to even play semi-regularly? Phillip Neville defends David Moyes shocker. Southampton have rewarded José Fonte with the captain's armband after he signed a three-year deal when he had 12 months remaining on his contract and Celtic's Fraser Forster is on his way for £10 million after a deal was agreed. It's not all good news though. Morgan Schneiderlin isn't ready to play for Southampton according to Ronald Koeman but the Dutch manager's sympathetic stance doesn't appear to extend as far as acquiescing to the player's desire to leave. Fair enough, Koeman is entitled to try to hold onto his remaining stars and Daniel Levy's only going to come in with a decent-ish offer on deadline day anyway.
A £50 million centre back unveiled by club president who reveals awareness of an actual budget. Yes, Ángel Di María is "too expensive" for Paris Saint-Germain ladies and gentlemen. Is the Argentina international a bit too dear for the French champions at £50 million but reasonable for £40 million? Is his signing contingent on any potentially savoury player sales to a certain Merseyside club? Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich seem to be at odds over verbal utterances in relation to Marco Reus' contract situation. Bayern Munich's CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has no business talking about the purported release clause (low fee!) of Bayern's closest domestic rival but perhaps that's the point. Hans-Joachim Watzke and presumably senior figures at Borussia Dortmund are not impressed, understandably so. Barcelona are set to sign Thomas Vermaelen after Wenger strongly hinted that Manchester United had made an official move for the player. A £15 million deal (£12 million initially) and a five-year contract is a happy ending for all concerned. United's search for a centre back of some quality goes on.