Football Features

Dani Alves to Barcelona, and nine in-season transfers you might have missed this season

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 16:19, 17 November 2021 | Updated: 12:48, 31 August 2022

Despite there being two periods in a year where players can move from one club to another (summer and winter), it’s possible for signings to be made outside these windows.

So far during this season, we’ve seen numerous examples. Here are ten such transfers made since October 2, including an emotional Camp Nou return.

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1. Dani Alves

To: Barcelona
Previous club: Sao Paulo

Before joining Barcelona in the same summer Pep Guardiola was named manager (2008), Dani Alves was considered La Liga’s most electric full-back, with many praising his work at both ends of the field. To say he levelled up under Guardiola’s tutelage would be an understatement. From 2008 until his departure eight years later Alves, who made nearly 250 league appearances, was the game’s undisputed best right-back. Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain would enjoy his services and he’d subsequently bolster his trophy cabinet before returning home by representing Sao Paulo in 2019.

That return to Brazil has now ended, with Alves reunited with former teammate Xavi, who is now calling the shots from the dugout. Though he is able to link up with his new teammates, Alves must wait before wearing that fabled blaugrana jersey again. When he does, it will be the No.8 jersey.

2. Nicolas Nkoulou

To: Watford
Previous club: Torino

A graduate of the Kadji Sports Academy in Cameroon (which produced Samuel Eto’o, Carlos Kameni, and Eric Djemba-Djemba), former Monaco youth player Nicolas Nkoulou spent a few seasons in Ligue 1.

After turning out for Marseille and Lyon, he joined Serie A outfit Torino in 2008. There, he’d go on to make no fewer than 135 appearances. The 31-year-old defender is now back on the move, relocating to Premier League strugglers Watford on a short-term deal. His debut came at Goodison Park in the Hornets’ sensational 2-5 comeback win over Everton. Claudio Ranieri introduced him with 14 minutes remaining. Nkoulou then completed his first match just before the international break, though in a losing effort at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal.

3. Serge Aurier

To: Villarreal
Previous club: Tottenham

It just never worked out for Serge Aurier at Tottenham, especially after joining to some fanfare on the back of a strong Paris Saint-Germain spell. During his time in Paris, the Ivorian registered 15 assists in 81 appearances. With Spurs seemingly heading in a new direction, Aurier felt it was time for him to move on, but not before expressing appreciation for his London stay. “I have really enjoyed my time at Spurs and would like to thank the Club and the fans, but I feel now is the right time for me to move onto a new challenge,” he said.

Aurier’s free agency didn’t last long, as Villarreal swooped in for his signature. Since joining, he’s made four La Liga appearances, creating one goal in the process.

4. Fernando Llorente

To: Eibar
Previous club: Udinese

Another member of Spurs’ incredible Champions League final run in 2019 was Fernando Llorente, who famously netted in their quarter-final showdown with Manchester City. The much-travelled Spanish marksman would return to Italy following that final loss to Liverpool by joining Napoli, where he made 29 appearances and netted four times.

Llorente subsequently moved to Udinese but that newfound home was temporary, as he’s since penned a contract at Eibar, which is the 36-year-old’s third La Liga club after Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla.

5. Sergio Romero

To: Venezia
Previous club: Man Utd

During his tenure at Manchester United, there was a strong case to be made that Sergio Romero was the Premier League’s best reserve goalkeeper. The former Argentina international, who lined up with former AZ manager Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford, had plenty of moments and for a brief while had the edge over David de Gea, but he could not capitalise on that opportunity. Hungry for consistent playing time and having fallen behind Dean Henderson in the pecking order, Romero departed this past summer and has since turned up at Serie A club Venezia,  keeping two clean sheets across five league outings so far.

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6. Robbie Brady

To: Bournemouth
Previous club: Burnley

Man Utd take great pride in youth development but many talents who begin their footballing journey there have to settle for a career in less hallowed environments. A good recent example is Robbie Brady. After establishing himself at Hull City, he further improved at Norwich City, before earning another crack at the Premier League with Burnley, where the Republic of Ireland international made over 80 league appearances.

The 29-year-old  will be playing second tier football for the rest of this season, though, after joining Bournemouth, now coached by Scott Parker.

7. Antonio Mirante

To: AC Milan
Previous club: AS Roma

Having come through at Juventus in the mid-2000s, the chances of Antonio Mirante becoming the club’s number one ‘keeper were slim, so he had to settle for a back-up role. The Old Lady would also often send him out on loan, before he signed permanently for Sampdoria. From there he moved on to Parma, the club at which he’s enjoyed the most playing time. After briefly turning out for Roma, the 38-year-old became a free agent in the summer, but with Milan recently undergoing an injury crisis within their goalkeeping core, Mirante signed a contract until June 2022.

8. Rudy Gestede

To: Esteghlal FC
Previous club: Panetolikos

A former Championship mainstay, Rudy Gestede enjoyed three Premier League seasons with Cardiff City, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough respectively before leaving English football in 2020 when he signed for A-League outfit Melbourne Victory. The 33-year-old marksman, who managed five strikes for Melbourne, is now plying his trade in a fourth different nation after signing for Iranian club Esteghlal.

9. Lamine Kone

To: Lausanne-Sport
Previous club: Strasbourg

A one-time Sunderland player, Lamine Kone left England in 2019 after three seasons with the Black Cats by joining Strasbourg, meaning a return to Ligue 1 where he enjoyed a stellar period at Lorient. But, Kone’s time with the Racers came to an end in June 2021 when his contract expired. His career continued when Swiss Super League team Lausanne-Sport acquired the Ivorian’s signature in early November.

10. Milan Lalkovic

To: Boston United
Previous club: 1.FK Pribram

It goes without saying that Chelsea’s youth academy has produced a number of interesting players in the past decade. Among those who never quite made the grade was Milan Lalkovic, who since leaving Stamford Bridge has represented no fewer than nine different clubs. His latest is National League North team Boston United, who he joined in October 2021.