Trading up

WITH THE start of the new season less than a month away, activity on the European market is reaching fever-pitch. The Italian situation apart, Manchester United are close to completing the 35 million euro signing of Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid, with out of favour Ruud Van Nistelrooy heading the other way to Real. Also on his way back to Spain is Chelsea’s Asier del Horno, for whom Chelsea have accepted a 12 million euro bid from Valencia.

Liverpool have finally off-loaded Djibril Cisse to Marseille, while veteran defender, Dietmar Hamann, rejected Bolton at the 11th hour, in preference for Manchester City. Rafael Benitez has stocked up his squad with young South Americans: Brazilian and Argentine defenders Fabio Aurelio and Gabriel Paletta have arrived at Anfield alongside Chilean winger Mark Gonzalez. Portsmouth have taken on Chelsea’s Robert Huth, who failed his medical at Middlesbrough, and are preparing a 15 million euro move for Benfica midfielder, Manuel Fernandez. West Bromwich Albion have signed Swiss national keeper, Pascal Zuberbuehler, from Basle as a replacement for Wigan-bound Chris Kirkland, while Bolton welcome Quinton Fortune from Old Trafford and Marseille defender Abdoulaye Meité.

In Portugal, former Sporting and Porto star striker, Mario Jardel, is back with Beira-Mar following unsuccessful spells at several European and Brazilian clubs, while Porto have landed Moroccan winger, Tarik Sektioui, from AZ Alkmaar. The reigning champions are also negotiating with PSV Eind-hoven for Dutch striker, Venegoor von Hesselink. Elsewhere in Europe, Inter Milan have snapped up Maniche to link up with fellow Portuguese international, Luís Figo, and Werder Bremen have taken both Hannover’s Per Mertesacker and Porto’s Hugo Almeida under contract.