Bale presented at Madrid as Ozil exits for Arsenal
LONDON (AP) — In Spain, gripped by economic recession for years, fans marked football’s transfer deadline day by turning out in the thousands to greet the game’s first 100 million-euro player.
Gareth Bale was paraded Monday inside the Santiago Bernabeu stadium a day after completing his world-record $132-million move to Real Madrid from Premier League club Tottenham.
“I would have come here for a penny,” the Wales winger said. “I just wanted to be here and in a white shirt.”
The 24-year-old Bale will earn a reported $461,000 a week in Spain, which is plagued by an unemployment rate exceeding 26 percent, highlighting how the country’s leading football teams — Madrid and Barcelona — thrive in an economic bubble.
University of Barcelona finance professor Jose Maria Gay said Bale’s transfer was “an act of arrogance when normal people are having a hard time.”
Madrid did recoup half of the Bale fee by selling Mesut Ozil to Arsenal, becoming the Premier League’s most expensive signing in 2013 as the English league’s clubs spent over a record $932 million in the summer window.
By breaking Arsenal’s transfer record to sign the 24-year-old Germany playmaker for $66 million, owner Stan Kroenke showed frustrated fans that he is willing to invest to produce the team’s first trophy since 2005.
The Gunners had failed with bids for several stars over the summer, including Liverpool striker Luis Suarez. The only arrivals came via the free signings of striker Yaya Sanogo and returning midfielder Mathieu Flamini.
It was even more frustrating at Manchester United.
The champions executed a smooth managerial transition in May when Alex Ferguson retired after almost 27 years and David Moyes took over.
But the change in the boardroom, with chief executive David Gill exiting and vice chairman Ed Woodward assuming his responsibilities, appears to have been more significant, given the transfer woes.
It took until the final hours of the summer window to push a deal of note through, with Moyes turning to former club Everton to land Marouane Fellaini for $43 million.
The Belgium midfielder wasn’t the marquee signing Moyes had hoped for to open the new era at United.
Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas was pursued for several weeks and the 20-time English champions failed in high-profile attempts Monday to bring Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao and Athletic Bilbao midfielder to Old Trafford.
The biggest Premier League spenders of the summer were Tottenham, with splurged more than $170 million — largely from the Bale deal — on seven players in its bid to break back into the top four and qualify for the Champions League.
Even after the winning start to the season ended with a derby loss to Arsenal on Sunday, Tottenham resisted making any further additions to the squad before January.
The surprise performer so far is Liverpool, which is on top after three victories — the latest against United on Sunday — in its best start to the season since 1993 as it chases a 19th English title.
Liverpool’s defensive options were enhanced Monday with France international Mamadou Sakho signed from Paris Saint-Germain, and Tiago Ilori, who has represented Portugal in youth age groups, arriving from Sporting Lisbon.
Winger Victor Moses switched to Anfield on a season-long from Chelsea, which failed to hire primary summer target United striker Wayne Rooney.
While United vowed not to sell Rooney, perhaps it would have been more willing to sell the England international to a foreign club if there had been any interest.
Once linked with Paris Saint-Germain, the French champions completed around $150 million of transfer business long before the window closed.
One of the few significant deals in France on Monday was winger Florian Thauvin joining Marseille for $20 million after refusing to play for Lille. That is five times the fee Lille paid Bastia in January.
The World Cup at the end of the season has been on many players’ minds as they considered their options.
Brazil playmaker Kaka on Monday agreed to a two-year deal with AC Milan following a free transfer from Real Madrid.
Kaka accepted a reported salary of $5.3 million per season plus bonuses — a significant drop from the $13.2 million Kaka earned in the Spanish capital.
The 31-year-old Kaka wants to play for Brazil on home soil at the 2014 World Cup and should feature more at Milan.
“Kaka made a big (sacrifice) to return here, showing a lot of affection for our shirt,” Milan Vice President Adriano Galliani said.
German clubs largely resisted any last-minute splurges on a day of loan deals and departures.
Bucking the trend, Japan captain Makoto Hasebe joined Nuremberg from Bundesliga rival Wolfsburg and Tunisian defender Karim Haggui switched from Hannover to Stuttgart.