Back to regular business for clubs, players now that World Cup is over

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2014-7-21 21:38:21

The best World Cup in recent times has only been over for a week but it's back to normal for everyone, including Extra Time. Whilst the euphoria or sadness fades and people start counting down ­toward the next World Cup in 2018, ­soccer clubs and players have gone about their business so that big changes and fresh hopes will be in store when the season kicks off.

Mighty Manchester United were brought crashing down to Earth last season, so much so they will not even be playing in Europe this season, much less the Champions League. But this season looks to be much different, starting with a new and more accomplished ­manager, Dutchman Louis van Gaal, fresh off of leading his country to third place at the World Cup. United will also have a ­revamped backline with old war horses Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic moving on, while English teenage international Luke Shaw comes in for a cool 27 million pounds ($46.16 million).

FA Cup winners Arsenal seemingly now understand their ambitions should go beyond being a perennial top-four team by splurging on a star for the second summer in a row. The Gunners got Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona for 32 million pounds, a fortune by their previous thrifty standards.

Defending Champions League winners Real Madrid got a World Cup ­winner in German Toni Kroos, but they might get Colombian James Rodriguez in what would be a very obscene case of the rich getting richer. If this move happens, Rodriguez, who top-scored with six goals and was widely considered the best player at the World Cup, will join a team filled with superstars including two of the world's most expensive and explosive talents Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

A few players who had a World Cup to forget can look forward to brighter futures.

Brazilian-turned-Spanish striker Diego Costa, who was jeered mercilessly by his countrymen for daring to return to his country and play in another ­nation's colors at the World Cup, will start anew for Chelsea in the Premier League, ­having moved from Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.

Speaking of Chelsea, they also decided to go the Manchester United way by shedding longtime stalwarts Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. The former is set to go to New York City to play for New York City FC while Cole made an intriguing choice for another challenging league by going to Roma in Italy's Serie A.

The world's most audacious ­soccer villain Uruguayan Luis Suarez will ply his trade in the opposite direction, moving on from Liverpool to Barcelona. ­Suarez, of course, made his mark on the World Cup, literally, by chomping down on an Italian defender before international outrage resulted in him being banned for nine games and four months by FIFA. While it might seem unfair that Suarez gained from yet another disreputable act, there is no doubting this man's passion and appetite for the game.

There are still several weeks before the new season begins in England, Spain, Germany and other key leagues but it's not too soon to be anticipating another fine year of soccer.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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