Soccer: Juve and Napoli seen as transfer-market winners

Champs got Tevez, runners-up Higuain

Soccer: Juve and Napoli seen as transfer-market winners

(By Denis Greenan). Rome, September 3 - Reigning champions Juventus and runners-up Napoli are seen as the two winners on the Italian transfer market which closed Monday night. Juve secured the services of Carlos Tevez from Manchester City and Napoli, while losing prolific scorer Edinson Cavani to Paris Saint-Germain, got Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid. Both have impressed in Juve and Napoli's two high-scoring opening wins. AC Milan, which landed Alessandro Matri from Juve and Kakà in a last-minute deal from Real Madrid, is reckoned to have come third in the summer's bargaining. Italy's clubs spent some 800 million euros in the transfer window from July 3 to September 2, according to figures released Tuesday. Higuain's 37-million-euro move was the biggest, but overshadowed by the 65-million-euro sale of Cavani to PSG and dwarfed by the new world record 100 million euros Real splashed out on Spurs forward Gareth Bale. The second-biggest Italian deal of the summer was the 26 million Manchester City's sheikhs forked out for Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic. The Viola reinvested 15.5 million euros for Bayern Munich centre-forward Mario Gomez. AS Roma also made big market waves by selling Brazil centre-back Marquinhos to PSG and Argentine forward Erik Lamela to Spurs for a combined 61 million euros, helping the Roman club bankroll the acquisition of rising Netherlands star Kevin Strootman. The 23-year-old midfielder from PSV Eindhoven cost the Giallorossi 19 million euros. Inter, widely rumoured to be heading for the end of the Moratti era and new Indonesian ownership, mostly kept its hand in its pocket, apart from picking up Argentine striker Mauro Icardi from Sampdoria for 13 million and Algeria striker Ishak Belfodil from Parma. But the main headlines were grabbed by Juve and Napoli, both seeking European glory as well as the scudetto. The Bianconeri's other acquisitions included Fernando Llorente, on a free transfer from Atletico Madrid, and Torino's Italy defender Angelo Ogbonna, for a considerable 12 million euros. Napoli's other buys were Real Madrid forward José Callejon, a 10-million-euro signing; central defender Raul Albiol, also from Real, for 12 million; and goalkeeper Pepe Reina, on loan from Liverpool. But Italian soccer watchers say the most significant buy of the year remains AC Milan's purchase of Mario Balotelli from Man City in the January transfer window. Italy striker Balotelli has been on fire for Milan in their two games, despite their debut ending in defeat to Hellas Verona, in pursuit of his stated goal to dislodge Barcelona and Argentina great Leo Messi from his perch as the world's best player. The 23-year-old former bad boy is keeping his temper despite racist taunts and showing a maturing desire to play for the team, third favourite for the title behind Juve and Napoli. And Milan may also come to be thankful that Balotelli's fellow Italy forward Stephan 'The Pharaoh' El Shaarawy refused to budge this week despite club owner Silvio Berlusconi's inclination to accept a whopping Man city bid and recoup some much-needed cash.

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