Transfer news

Just a short post to plug Mika Peura’s excellent transfer page. I’ll write a bit more on the more interesting news in due course (Valeri Popovitch’s departure from Haka being the juiciest little morsel), but if you need to keep in touch with the ins and outs in the meantime, Mika’s your man.

We have a few interviews in the pipeline, as well as the usual navel-gazing and bullshit. The women and under-21s are the national teams of the moment, and they deserve more coverage than they’ve received thus far. We’ll endeavour to put that right soon.

The Return of the King

FC Lahti have announced that the legendary #10, Jari Litmanen, is a new addition to their squad. He has been training with the team for a few weeks now and it was quite natural that he decided to bring this season to its conclusion playing for Lahti.

“He has been training very well with us, and I have no doubt that he is ready for Veikkausliiga,” said Mäkelä in response to my query as to whether he was really better than Berat Sadik. “He is fit, and mentally focused, which hasn’t been the case too often with Jari Litmanen in recent years.”

“Once he has played 2-3 games for us, he should be available to the national team for the Israel game. He’s a great example to the younger players, his dedication to training is quite something. He will provide a focus for our attack that we’ve been missing since Berat Sadik left to play in the Bundesliga.”

Somewhat surprisingly, FC Lahti are involved in this season’s title race, and Litmanen – despite his age – can do wonders for his side. Maybe Rafael will now find his flair again? This could be great for Veikkausliiga, too.

Mäkelä made the point that “now we’ll see just how much people in Finland really care about football”, a reference to the hype and media coverage that will surely follow Litmanen’s Lahti around.

Litmanen last played with Lahti in 2004, and his joining the club meant great attendances wherever he played. The Finns were so eager to see the King play that FC Lahti had to put out an infamous press release ending with the words “FC Lahti reserve the right to pick out their squad themselves”. That was after he had missed a couple of games due to injury and big crowds left the stadia dissatisfied.

This time Mäkelä is hoping for 5,000-6,000 for the game against KuPS on Monday, many of them presumably going to see KuPS’s new signing from Tampere United Antti Hynynen. The game is on TV, 7pm on Urheilukanava, and there will surely be a stream available for those outside Finland.

In other news, Iiro Aalto “returns” to TPS. He signed a contract early in the year, but left to play for Olympiakos Nicosia of Cyprus before ever playing a game for TPS. Olympiakos Nicosia were relegated, enabling Aalto’s return to Finland, where he joined Tampere United.

I wonder what TPS will get out of this. They have a decent left defender in Urmas Rooba and some backup to see off the Estonian’s injury. What TPS would need is either a striker or a centre-back or both, but instead they signed a left defender.

Honka sell Maanoja

Gone is their best defender/defensive midfielder, and their goalkeeper will follow. Honka have announced that Tomi Maanoja will hop on the ferry and move to Stockholm’s AIK. Thursday’s UEFA Cup game against IA Akranes in Iceland will be “Psyko’s” farewell. The transfer fee has not been made public, but rumours are circulating that Honka will get about 300 000 € – roughly the same amount of money they got for Hannu Patronen.

Honka fans are not exactly praising their club for selling their important goalkeeper while their team is trying hard to make it to Europe next year – possibly through winning the title. Moreover, selling two important players is an interesting move from a club which in 2006 made no secret of their dreams of playing in the Champions League group stage in 2012, or attracting over 10 000 people on average to their home fixtures in 2010.

I don’t think Maanoja’s arrival at Gnaget is going to make Honka supporters much happier. Most likely he will not make his debut for the first team in a while, with Daniel Örlund being the man he has to compete with. I do not see people on the streets of Espoo dancing when they realize they sold an essential part

Lagerboom goes Alemania

Just some recent personnel happenings:

Of Finnish internationals, Paulus Roiha moves from ADO Den Haag to Ujpest, Budapest, and Markus Heikkinen from the beautiful airport city of Luton to the ugly Habsburgian relic of Vienna. Pekka Lagerblom hops from FC Köln to Alemannia Aachen and Aki “an Armenian thumb up my arse” Riihilahti joins FF Malmö’s finnjävels [sorry, his fellow specimen in Djurgården, to be exact] by leaving Kaiserslautern.

In Veikkausliiga, HJK’s Farid Ghazi has retired from football and returned to Algeria, citing family reasons. In Ykkönen, KPV have signed Tuomas Uusimäki – defensive midfielder with five appearances in national team – who has played last six years in Sweden and Austria but returned now to his native Kokkola, also citing family reasons.

AC Oulu have sacked Slatni & Banduliev, two foreigners.