The situation plays out the same every year, with the transfer window closing shut amid a blur of activity. Most clubs conduct the majority of their business during the latter stages, opting to take calculated risks or wild punts as their chance to act draws to an end. FIFA.com now looks back at the major moves negotiated over the last two weeks – and Monday's final flurry in particular.
* Headline happeningsWith just two Premier League points under their belts, and still reeling from a 4-0 loss to third-tier MK Dons in the English League Cup, Manchester United have offered supporters little to cheer on the pitch so far this season. Those fans have nonetheless been given a real lift on the transfer front, with the Red Devils agreeing a British record €75m fee for Argentinian midfielder *Angel Di Maria and managing to snare Colombian striker Radamel Falcao on loan from Monaco. Rivals Liverpool have turned heads as well, filling the void left by Luis Suarez's departure to Barcelona by luring Mario Balotelli back to England from AC Milan. "I can't wait to work with him," said Balotelli's new manager Brendan Rodgers. "He has a belief and arrogance on the pitch. Suarez is gone and he was a great talent, but we have to look to the future and I hope that Mario will fit in with our project. He knows the mistakes he's made, but there is no better club for him."
After five years with Real Madrid, meanwhile, former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso is now pursuing a new adventure in Germany. The 32-year-old Spaniard has chosen to join champions Bayern Munich, describing the switch as "the toughest decision of my life" – having clearly mulled over the move far more than Mehdi Benatia. The Moroccan defender jumped at the chance to sign for Bayern from Roma for €26m, explaining: "Bayern are blessed with a superb squad and it's a dream to now be part of it."
World Cup factorThe 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ finished several weeks ago, but the effects of the tournament are still being felt. That has certainly proved true for Leroy Fer, who has swapped Norwich City for Queens Park Rangers after scoring for the Netherlands in their 2-0 Group B win against Chile. One of the genuine revelations in Brazil, Fer's compatriot Daley Blind has also been rewarded with a change of surroundings, leaving formative club Ajax for a Manchester United side obviously keen to make waves before the transfer window slammed shut. Blind will team up at Old Trafford with Marcos Rojo(subject to a work permit), who helped Argentina eliminate the Oranje in the semi-finals at Brazil 2014, while Portugal's Nanihas made the reverse journey from United to Sporting Lisbon. As for Rojo's Albiceleste colleague Federico Fernandez, he will get a taste of Premier League action this term as well, having packed his bags for Swansea City from Napoli.
The hero for Brazil in their Round of 16 penalty shoot-out win against Chile, 34-year-old Julio Cesarwill wear the gloves for Benfica this season after bidding farewell to Toronto. Elsewhere, fresh from playing key roles as Greece reached the last 16, Georgios Samaras and Andreas Samarishave both decided on a change of employer, leaving respective clubs Celtic and Olympiacos for West Bromwich Albion and Benfica. Lastly, Carlos Sanchezhas penned a four-year deal with Aston Villa, the midfielder ending his spell at Spanish side Elche after helping Colombia progress to the quarter-finals in Brazil.
27 – The number of days spent by Algerian midfielder Saphir Taider at Southampton. The 22-year-old was sent back to parent club Inter Milan, before promptly being loaned out to Sassuolo.
Back at home
After two seasons at Manchester United, Shinji Kagawa is now back at Borussia Dortmund, where he won the Bundesliga title in 2011 and a league and cup double in 2012. "BVB are like a family to me," explained the Japan midfielder. "I'm really proud they didn't forget me and to be able to join them again."
Close to eight months after leaving Olympiacos, meanwhile, Greece forward Kostas Mitroglou is looking forward to a second stint – cutting short his brief time with second-division English club Fulham. Likewise, 29-year-old Denmark defender Daniel Agger is refamiliarising himself with Brondby, where he took his first steps in the game before a nine-year interlude at Anfield. In contrast, Jermaine Jonesis turning out in his homeland for the very first time, having spent the entirety of his career in Europe at Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke, Blackburn Rovers and Besiktas. Capped 44 times by USA, the 32-year-old midfielder answered the call of the New England Revolution.
For his part, Alexandre Song is back in London two years after leaving Arsenal for Barcelona. The Cameroonian midfielder knows the English capital well and ought to settle quickly at new home West Ham United. And, moving in the opposite direction, Spain striker Alvaro Negredohas finalised his return to the Liga following a single season at Manchester City, opting to lead the line for Valencia.
Players to watchA whole raft of leading forwards will be under the microscope this term after opening fresh chapters in their careers during the closing stages of the transfer window. Many will intrigued to see what impact Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez can make at Madrid following his loan switch from Manchester United, while Fernando Torreswill be hoping to rediscover his goalscoring touch at AC Milan after three disappointing years with Chelsea. El Niño's former Blues team-mate Samuel Eto'ohas left London as well, pitching up at Everton, and Nicklas Bendtner has begun a three-year stay at Wolfsburg after being released by Arsenal. In addition, Argentinian marksman Javier Saviolahas swapped Olympiacos for Hellas Verona, and Italy's Alessio Cerci has negotiated an eye-catching move to Atletico Madrid from Torino.
What they said"Cristiano Ronaldo has already explained to me how important it was. I wanted to wear this shirt. I want to be able to do as much for the club as Ronaldo and all the others have been able to. Also, the club wanted me to wear it. I hope I can live up to it.”
**Angel Di Maria discusses the No7 shirt at Manchester Unted
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