Hey big spender!

He left it late, but Arsene Wenger finally brushed the cobwebs off the Arsenal cheque book, swallowed hard, and spent some of the club’s easily-earned money. Permanent deals were agreed for Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Mikel Arteta, while Yossi Benayoun joined on loan.

Santos, who obviously hasn’t looked at the Premier League table this month, or indeed for the past few years, believes he is joining a club with title aspirations.

The Brazilian full-back told Arsenal’s website:  “I arrive here with one aim – being a champion. I will wear Arsenal’s shirt and give my utmost to it. I will do everything for the club.”

Fire sale?

The biggest losers on deadline day, in England at least, appeared to be Everton, who in addition to losing star player Arteta, also offloaded last season’s leading scorer Jermaine Beckford to Leicsester City and sold Yakubu and Blackburn. The fans won’t be happy at the fire sale, but the bank manager for the cash-strapped club will be doing cartwheels.

Across Stanley Park, rivals Liverpool were at the centre of a flurry of late transfer activity. With the transfer window closing at 11pm, midfielder Raul Meireles left it until 10:30pm to submit a transfer request. He must be a spontaneous kind of guy. Within minutes, in fact, before you had the chance to say ‘I wonder if he’s been tapped up by another club’  Meireles was a Chelsea player.

As Meireles left, in strutted Craig Bellamy. The Manchester City striker returns to his former club on loan. After leaving Liverpool under a cloud following a bust-up with pretty much everybody at the club, Bellamy returns an older, but only time will tell, if he is also a wiser man.

Goal of the day

Not for the first time, a moment of genius from Ronaldinho.

Here the Brazilian scores direct from a corner in Flamengo’s 3-2 defeat to Avai FC.

Knee-jerk reaction

Even though the Serie A season hasn’t yet started, Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has sacked his coach Stefano Pioli. Given that the dismissal raises his total of firings to 36 in 24 years in the game, one wonders what took him so long.

“I got Pioli because I trusted [former Palermo and current Roma sporting director] Walter Sabatini,” Zamparini told Radio Mana Mana.

“He told me that he couldn’t take him to Roma because you need to be a big name as well as a good coach to work in the capital.

“At that point I thought that he’d be good for Palermo, but then I realised that the side couldn’t stay up on their feet.

“I didn’t have faith in him and I even feared we’d be relegated so I decided to dismiss him.”

For now, youth squad coach Devis Mangia will take charge. The day after that, is anyone’s guess.

Calling it a day

Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho has walked out of a training camp and announced he’s quitting international football on the eve of a Euro 2012 qualifier against Cyprus.

No one The 33-year-old Real Madrid player, who has 75 caps, said in a statement he felt hurt at the way he had been treated, but refused to specify what had happened.

“I have never felt this disrespected and hurt in my dignity before,” he said. “Between my peers, I am just one more athlete. However, I, too, deserve consideration and respect.

“I did not plan to end my international career this way but I do it convinced that I always honoured my country.”

The country’s Football Federation claim they have no idea why the Carvalho quit.

Converting the masses

Despite confident assertions that the appearance of Lionel Messi would trigger a football revolution in India, ticket sales for Argentina’s friendly game against Venezuela in Kolkatta remain sluggish.

With the game taking place on Friday, 55,000 tickets have been sold. A respectable figure until one realises that the game is being staged in the 120,000 capacity Salt Lake stadium and the population of India is over a billion.

All those empty seats will not please the match sponsors. And, lest you are in any doubt as to what this fixture is all about, listen to All India Football Federation (AIFF) vice president, Subrata Dutta.

“Nearly 100,000 turn up for a derby match (between city rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan) in Kolkata,” he said. “But because the crowd primarily comprises the lower income group, we didn’t get enough sponsors.”

“Things will change with this match. We will be able to attract fans from middle and upper income groups and sponsors are naturally excited because they can target the consumers.”

You old romantic, you.

Spanish civil war

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has called for an end to the feud between Barcelona and Real Madrid players in his Spanish national team.

Relations between the two sets of players have plummeted following a series of six high intensity games between the two sides going back to last season. Familiarity has indeed bred contempt and in Spain, one doesn’t have to scratch too far below the surface for lingering regional resentments to reappear.

“It was, I suppose, to be expected that there would be more problems (between the Barca and Real players),” del Bosque said. “This was not good propaganda for Spanish football.”

“Now we need to return to a good co-existence within the squad, that is very important.”

Selling Cole to new club

Joe Cole has admitted that he rejected moves to Premier League clubs to sign for Lille.

“I had offers in England,” admitted Cole, who has joined the French champions on loan for a season. “I know Lille play well, they are a club with a great pedigree and it’s really exciting to have a chance to play in the Champions League again.

“I’ve always wanted to play abroad. I’m glad the move has been completed and I’m looking forward to a different challenge.

After a difficult 12 months at Liverpool, Cole is relishing the chance of a fresh start in France, despite admitting he’s not quite sure what he’s letting himself in for.

“Unfortunately, we don’t watch much French football on TV in Britain,” he continued. “But I looked at Lille, and for me they are a kind of mini-Barcelona.”

Are you going to tell him…

Licence to print money

Manchester United have reported an annual operating profit of £110.9m. Total revenue rose to more than £330m for the year to the end of June 2011, up £45m on the previous year.

One shudders to think how successful they might have been in recent years had the club’s owners, the Glazer family, not been leeching the profits out of the club.

One player who was linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer is Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder. The Dutch international admits he was tempted by the prospect of a move to England.

“Manchester are one of the biggest clubs in the world, so of course I was open to a move. Nevertheless, a transfer was not a must for me. I’m happy to stay at Inter and I’m feeling very well in Italy.

“Perhaps Manchester United also got the feeling that I didn’t really want to leave Inter.”

Or perhaps the Glazers took one look at your wage demands and thought better of it.


Hoffenheim general manager Ernst Tanner became a hero for the day when he rescued his neighbour under the rear wheels of her car.

Tanner told Bild on Thursday he was going jogging at 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday when he heard his neighbor screaming and found her trapped under the rear wheels of her Mercedes.

Tanner said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes.” He enlisted the help of two binmen to “lift the car and pull out the poor woman.”

Tanner added: “I only did what everyone would have done. It’s hardly worth mentioning.”