European Soccer

Transfer Roundup: Hleb makes Barca switch, Gilberto heads to Greece, Mancini set to join Inter


(Good evening folks. Most of you have already scoured through Wednesday’s transfer news so you probably have read about some of these transfers, but for those of you who haven’t had time, or are like us and were busy with MLS news, here are some European transfer stories for you. SBI correspondent Carl Setterlund catches us up on the transfer market.)


Cesc Fabregas got a little bit lonelier today in the Arsenal midfield, as the Gunners sold off two more key players, Alexander Hleb and Gilberto Silva, that after already losing playmaker Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer to Milan early in the summer.

The bigger of the two losses comes in Hleb, an attacking midfielder that can also play on the wings. Immediately following Ronaldinho’s departure to Italy, Barca announced it had signed Hleb for a fee of €15 million ($23.7 million), with another €2 million in add-ons depending on the team’s success.

The 27-year old Belarus captain moves to the Camp Nou following perhaps his best season for Arsenal, and he should provide an immediate impact in the new-look Barca midfield. Hleb is the first attack-oriented signing in an offseason that has seen the Blaugrana already add defenders Dani Alves, Martin Cáceres and Gerard Piqué and midfielder Seydou Keita.

Gilberto Silva headed to Panathinaikos

Adding to the sting of losing Hleb, Arsene Wenger today also sold off former vice-captain Gilberto Silva to Athens-based club Panathinaikos, widely regarded as the second-best team in Greece. The 31-year-old Brazil international demanded an impressive fee of £7.9 million ($15.8 million) despite not playing regularly last term. New Panathinaikos manager Henk Ten Cate is said to be a big fan, perhaps getting a good look at Gilberto as the Chelsea assistant manager over the past season.

It seemed that the versatile defensive midfielder fell out of favor at the Emirates after voicing his displeasure at being passed over as captain for William Gallas after Thierry Henry departed. Perhaps it was just the plethora of young talent that the Gunners had in midfield that did him in, but one thought Wenger might have found use for Gilberto in a group that now includes just Fabregas, TomᚠRosický and Samir Nasri in terms of proven starters. This is just speculation, but with the appropriate funds and the need present it would make even more sense for Wenger to pursue Gareth Barry now.

Inter swoops for Mancini

Jose Mourinho made his first major move as Inter manager, but it wasn’t to secure the services of Frank Lampard, as the Nerazzurri swooped in to steal away Roma midfielder Mancini for a cost of €13 million ($20.6 million). The 27-year-old did the only Italian upgrade possible, moving from the club that has finished second-place in Serie A three years running to the club that his finished top of the table the past three years.

The dynamic Brazilian international will be sorely missed by the Giallorossi, especially since he moves to a league rival. Mancini could figure in to be the eventual heir to the ageless Luis Figo, but there should be enough space for both on the same field in the mean time. While Lampard remains a target, Mancini’s signing likely takes Inter out of the Ricardo Quaresma sweepstakes. No truth to the rumor that the Mancini deal is owner Massimo Moratti’s way of apologizing for sacking former manager Roberto Mancini after back to back to back first-place finishes.

What’s your take on Arsenal’s midfield situation? How will Hleb, Gilberto and Mancini fit into their respective new clubs? Share your thoughts below.

  • Joe

    Ives, how much did you actually watch Mancini last year? Yeah, he had a decent run during the middle of the season, but overall he was extremely inconsistent last year. Maybe what he needs is just a change of scenery?

    However, he can be extremely lazy, pouty and inconsistant. If Roma can somehow finagle a deal for Mutu or just bring in Julio Baptista who is rumored to be their second choice, they’re much better off.

    Anyone remember last year when Roma sold Chivu to Inter and then went out and bought Juan? Well, Juan didn’t crumble against Man U this year in the champions league like Chivu did the year before. And Roma’s back line is stronger with Juan than it was with Chivu. Look for a similar result coming from whoever replaces Mancini.


  • Richie B

    Hleb played well the first few games but did nothing after that. He’s an attacking player that doesn’t shoot, that just doesn’t work too well.

    Gilberto hardly played last year but will still be missed. He’s versatile enough to fill in at center back and is a good passer of the ball.

    Hopefully the Gunners have something planned as far as another incoming midfielder.


  • Shakes

    The Gunners are flush with cash from all of these overvalued transfers. Wenger will do what he always does – find some young guys for half the price, and then watch them put up better stats under his system.

    Still interested to see where Adebayor ends up, personally. My guess is back with the Gunners, and very pouty about it.

    – Scott


  • EDB

    I agree with Joe, in to many games Mancini was quiet. I’m hoping for a stronger replacement.


  • HomeyBoehme

    I am fairly certain Arsenal are officially considered a “selling club”. They have payments to make on the new stadium. Unlike other clubs (Man U, Liverpool) who enjoy having debts in the hundreds of millions (in pounds no less), Arsenal is actually trying to run a viable business.

    Wenger will get a good product out on the field. Will they be in first place? No. Will they be in the top four? Yes. Why in the world isn’t a top four finish good enough for some fans? I have no idea.


  • inkedAG

    Hahaha! I like what Drew said! It seems that way as of late! 🙂

    Arsenal is in sore need of reinforcements!!


  • Gilly73

    To all those who do not follow AS ROMA, the Mancini sale had to happen. He fell out of favor with both Spalletti and the Roman fans.

    My true concern regarding Mancini leaving is besides Pizzaro & Taddei who will be Roma’s playmaker? Especially if Guily is sold to PSG and Totti is slow to recover. It might be time for Aquilani & Perrotta to step up big time this year.

    My feeling is there are a couple more new faces headed to the Eternal City or the Scudetto might stay just out of reach.


  • kpugs

    I’m not dumb enough to say Hleb isn’t good…but he is being so ridiculously overrated right now I can’t help but laugh. I’m sure Barca fans will love watching him dance around 4-5 players only to give the ball a heavy touch and passing it to the opponent, or send zillions of balls soaring into the stands from 8 yeards out (of course, this is only if he actually plays).

    This is all profit for Arsenal; I hate the gooners but I know in his heart Wenger is laughing.


  • Joe D.

    Yes, Mancini was not interested in signing an extension with Roma, so they were forced to sell him. However, how do you sell another key player to Inter for the second year in a row?!


  • mig22

    Yeah, I don’t like Arsenal either but they will put a good top-4 squad on the pitch. When watching Arsenal games this past year, I found Hleb to be very, very dangerous because of his disruptive influence on the defense. He may not be a great finisher but he is tireless and FAST and knows where to run to stretch a back line. Glad he’s gone for the Gunners because they’re weaker without him.


  • Richard

    We have plenty of midfielders so i guess mancini leaving could be a good thing… Bring in Baptista and we are set as a TEAM *cough cough milan cough*


  • wrooby

    You people really rate Hleb that highly? While I don’t think anyone would deny that he’s sublimely skilled on the ball, the fact remains as a winger and second striker he could only muster 10 goals in three seasons for Arsenal (and 19 in 5 seasons for Stuttgart). About 90% of Gooners I talk to couldn’t stand the fact that he would find himself in countless goalscoring opportunities and pass the ball up to see the chance ruined. I’d take Nasri or Walcott over him in a second, and I’m baffled that Barca would pay so much money for a player who’s going to find a permanent home on their bench.


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