It's been a long day without you, my friend. And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again. We've come a long way from where we began. Oh, I'll tell you all about it when I see you again. Wave goodbye to Aston Villa, Norwich City, and Newcastle. We hardly knew ye.
Are you waving your hands in the air like you just don't care? Guess who's back, back again. Eleven long months since this column raised its head for transfer fumes. It's been so long that even our Canadian overlords forgot it existed, presumably concerned with other more pressing site management duties like inspecting the legitimacy of player's tattoos or preferring to write stories where Liverpool transfer hopes are dashed once again. But that's none of my business.
Although June is still oh so young, there have been many transfers of interest so let's quickly go through what's been going down. If you need to catch-up on the players Liverpool have signed so far, shame on you. If you still need to scrub off such shame at being ignorant of Liverpool's transfer dealings and rumours, stick with The Liverpool Offside; it's always best to listen to an unbiased voice on these matters. Anyway, welcome back to our tangential round-up of transfer comings, goings, and maybes.
Premier League Early Birds
Arsenal have done something unusual in signing Granit Xhaka: make an absolutely necessary signing. The Swiss international cost £35 million and is a proper midfielder. If Arsène Wenger signs a striker and a central defender, the North London side could be one to watch. Avoiding another injury-plagued season would also be a good idea, but securing Xhaka represents an impressive start to the summer transfer window. Continuing with Bundesliga midfield ballers -- a must-have for the summer -- Manchester City have signed İlkay Gündoğan from Borussia Dortmund for around £20/21 million. He's injured until September, but Pep Guardiola wanted him so there was no try.
For fans of Football Manager and left-footed attacking players, newly-promoted Middlesbrough purchased Ajax's Viktor Fischer for a modest £3.8 million. He's the club's first signing of the summer and could be one of those sneaky cheap transfers. He turns 22 in less than a week and has long been linked with a number of big clubs. With over 100 appearances in the Eredivisie, can the Danish international step up in the world's most bloated and avaricious league? West Ham United have begun their summer recruitment drive by signing a highly-rated kid in Domingos Quina from Benfica. Arsenal and Chelsea reputedly wanted the 16-year-old, which improves the signing threefold.
Premier League champions Leicester City have signed Hannover 96 goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler for an undisclosed fee that's almost certain to be a bargain. His €3.5 million release clause had an expiry date at the end of May or something like that, which meant that time was of the essence and it was a race against time. Dramatic, no? Probably not in reality, but with Kasper Schmeichel an already convincing number one, the champions have improved depth and competition in the squad on a four-year deal, too.
In the Bundesliga, Mats Hummels and Kevin Volland are transfer rumour fodder no more. Hummels moved from Jürgen Klopp's former side to Bayern Munich for a fee reported to be as high as £30 million. This must be getting more than annoying for BVB fans. Volland has moved from Hoffenheim to Bayer Leverkusen for around £14 million. That's a pretty good deal for a 23-year-old left-footed forward who works hard and could have slotted in on the right for Liverpool. But we're getting Mario Götze even though he doesn't know it yet.
Benfica wonderkid midfielder Renato Sanches has joined Bayern for a sizeable fee, rejecting Manchester United in the process. He's 18. The fact that both Sanches and Hummels were announced together makes one feel the might of mighty Bayern who must be mightily pleased with these offerings for incoming manager, Carlo Ancelotti. Schalke 04 have replaced Joël Matip with the experienced and competent Naldo on a free transfer from Wolfsburg. A two-year contract makes sense given that Naldo has proved himself in the Bundesliga for over a decade.
What about poor Thomas Tuchel? Hummels has gone the way of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze, Gündoğan's move into Pep's waiting arms was essentially an open secret, and Henrik Mkhitaryan is supposedly looking at his options. Liverpool's one-time paramour recently rejected a contract extension, a situation made even more perilous by the fact that he's only got a year remaining on his current deal. Well, there is the signing of the hottest attacking teenager in Europe to provide some comfort. Ousmane Dembélé only turned 19 last month but was believed to be tracked by all of Europe's big clubs. Only one club convinced him to sign from Rennes on a five-year deal: Borussia Dortmund. France's best young player is going to strut his stuff in Germany next season.
The biggest noise in English football, however, have surrounded managerial appointments. While Brendan Rodgers moving to Celtic on a 12-month rolling contract relates to life north of the border, how the former Liverpool manager fares will be of great interest. Many Reds have no love for the 43-year-old manager, but for the curious, he's been discussing his plans with senior players at the Scottish Premier League champions. Nigel Pearson will be hoping to restore Derby County to the Premier League after eight years in the Championship wilderness and avoid any ostriches (yes, they had to be mentioned) in the process.
Garry Monk has found a job after being sacked by Swansea City in December. Leeds United have been a mess for a long while, but this column hopes that a young manager who showed promise in his first managerial position won't be chewed up by the wildly erratic Massimo Cellino. Upon taking the Leeds job, Monk says he's unconcerned but that's what they all say. He's behind you! Owen Coyle has returned from his exile in Major League Soccer to take up the reigns at Blackburn Rovers. Don't forget he gave Daniel Sturridge a chance as a striker. Roberto Di Matteo says "it's a wonderful honour" to become the manager of Aston Villa but should probably wait a few months first.
José Mourinho is the manager of Manchester United. There's not been much coverage of this appointment so you might have missed it. It's the job he's wanted since his union with Real Madrid ended, and even in his final season in Spain, he was angling to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson. Although Mourinho had to wait for two managers to be sacrificed on the altar constructed by Ed Woodward, a dark lord has finally followed another. What's this talk about Southampton's respected Ronald Koeman becoming Everton manager? Sky's secret sauces say he's in talks to succeed Roberto Martínez, but BBC Solent Sport counter with news that Everton haven't been given permission to speak with the Dutchman. A rumoured salary of £6 million to £7 million per season along with paying £3 million in compensation might talk loudest, though.
Before we go, some interesting news in takeovers. Swansea are being taken over by two American businessmen in a deal worth £100 million for a 60% stake! The Premier League money train is alluring. Even more curious is a takeover happening in Italy. Internazionale are to be associated with Suning Commerce Group, a Chinese company. Massimo Moratti's remaining 30% stake will be sold along with 40% of Erick Thohir's 70% stake. Let's hope they all pass whatever stringent fit and proper tests there are.
Oh, and FIFA cronies awarded themselves bonuses, pay rises, and creep money worth £55 million over a five-year period. Oink oink.