ALTHOUGH THE transfer window does not officially open until July 1, the international wheeling and dealing is already in full swing.
In Portugal, new Porto and Benfica coaches, Adriaanse and Koeman, are busy assembling new squads. Sandro, Anderson, star buy Lucho Gonzales and ex-Benfica player Tomo Sokota are only some of the reinforcements challenging for honours with Porto next season, while Maniche and Costinha have left for Dynamo Moscow in a 20 million euro package deal. Benfica have added Beira Mar’s Beto, Russian international Andrey Karyaka and Brazilian super-talent Diego to their first team. Elsewhere, Vitória de Setúbal and also newly promoted Naval have filled their vacant managerial positions with U20 coach Luis Norton de Matos and Manuel Cajuda respectively.
Ex-Benfica supreme Giovanni Trapattoni, who left after winning the championship with The Eagles this season due to “homesickness”, has agreed to take charge of VFB Stuttgart for an annual salary of 1.8 million euros, replacing Mattias Sammer. This will be the Italian’s second spell in the Bundesliga, following three successful years with Bayern Munich. Still in Germany, international striker Kevin Kurany has joined Schalke 04 from Stuttgart for 4.5 million euros, while champions Bayern Munich have let go of Frings, Kuffour and Robert Kovac to Bremen, AS Roma and Juventus.
Also staying in Italy is Hernan Crespo, for whom Chelsea have come to an agreement with AC Milan.
Chelsea look odds-on to sign up Milan’s Kakha Kaladze plus Bilbao’s Asier del Horno who may be on the way to fill the left-back position vacated by William Gallas, who is all set to leave for Barcelona in a 20 million euro deal. Manchester City have been persuaded to part with Shaun Wright-Phillips, who will partner Didier Drogba up front at Stamford Bridge for 22 million euros. Mikael Forsell, who could have done the same job for José Mourinho, made his loan spell at Birmingham permanent for a bargain 4.5 million euros. Scott Parker has also left south-west London, joining Newcastle for 10 million euros. Liverpool have sold Vladimir Smicer to Bordeaux, but out-of-favour Milan Baros has refused a move to French champions Lyon. Manager Rafael Benitez is in pole position to snatch 16-year-old central defender Miguel Roque from under the noses of Barca and Real – the central defender is regarded as one of Europe’s top prospects. Sir Alex Ferguson has solved his goal-keeping problem with the three million euro knock-down signing of Fulham’s Dutch international, Edwin van der Sar. Laurent Robert and Patrick Kluivert have both left Newcastle in different directions – Portsmouth and Valencia.