If you’re anything like me, you’ll have welcomed some time away from the beautiful game in recent weeks. There’s no doubt that, even for those of us who love the game so much, we find ourselves living in a world of 24 hour news reels and constant bulletins that can leave us somewhat weary towards the end of the season and through pre-season.
I feel like, this pre-season more than any, I’ve been acutely aware of the myriad of clubs spending their preparation time for the new season on money-spinning tours, be it Real Madrid and Tottenham heading Down Under, Manchester United and PSG heading Stateside or the frankly bizarre spectacle that was the Milan derby in China. Ok, so that did include this absolute screamer from Phillipe Mexes but still, it was a bit weird wasn’t it?
The truth is, however, that transfers have remained the star attraction this pre-season and will remain so right up until the clock strikes 0 under Jim White’s pulsating, sweating puss. Manchester City have, alone, provided much of this entertainment with their seemingly-endless pursuit of Raheem Sterling until the inevitable finally happened and he made the move to the Etihad for a measly £49 million. Such was the interest in the deal that it overshadowed one of the most hilarious double U-turns in football history, with Fabian Delph initially turning down a move to the Citizens to remain loyal to Aston Villa, only to swallow his words a matter of days later and sign on the dotted line. When you can almost make the debacle surrounding Mo Johnstone’s move to Rangers in 1989 look dull, you know you’ve kinda messed up. For those of you not familiar with Mo Johnstone and his escapades, I strongly suggest you read about it here. Nothing short of monumental in Scottish football terms, and something that still rankles with Celtic fans more than 20 years on.
In terms of the most exciting deals of the summer, my two are firmly cemented. I remember saying to my brother that, in May, we had already witnessed the biggest deal of the summer, with Manchester United confirming the signing of young Dutch winger Memphis Depay. The former PSV man had turned in a few exciting performances for his national side at the World Cup in Brazil and, with him looking sharp and having already scored his first goal for the Red Devils during pre-season, there’s no doubt Premier League fans will be salivating at the prospect of seeing him week-in, week-out. Throw into the mix the increasingly-likely possibility that Pedro will be heading to Manchester from the Nou Camp and United look like they have a forward line to be feared this season.
The other signing that really caught my imagination was the transfer of Chile international Arturo Vidal from Juventus to Bayern Munich. The dynamic and combative midfielder is flying at the moment, having spent his pre-season helping his national side capture their first Copa America and, with the exit of club legend Bastian Schweinsteiger, Vidal’s arrival will do much to sooth the agony for fans mourning the loss of dear old Schweiny.
The fact of the matter is, though, that we really don’t know what’s going to happen in the upcoming season. There’s an argument that the anticipation of the unknown is as exciting as anything that actually happens during the season but one thing’s for sure – like every other year, I’ll be there watching and I know you will too.