by Steven S

“Ex nihilo nihil fit” said a great man once upon a time, which translated means “Out of nothing comes nothing”. Parmenides was of course the man to utter those words but before you rush over to YouTube, he is not part of the Brazilian Olympic football team, rather a Greek philosopher in the same vein as Socrates. No, not the footballer, the forefather of….oh you know what I mean.

Anyway, it’s a phrase applicable to Stuart Downing’s first season at Liverpool and definitely one that the football media need to incorporate into this summer’s paltry efforts. Beyond the Euro’s and the rather tepid Olympic football tournament that we tried to get excited about but just couldn’t, the summer transfer market has been a wasteland of opportunities, like Jay Bothroyd and Carlton Cole in front of goal. So as you can imagine, trying to find something to talk about is becoming an increasingly hard act to perform at the moment.

Over at the Emirates, Santi Cazola was finally confirmed as an Arsenal player for an initial fee somewhere around the £12m mark, likely to increase with a number of additional appearance clauses. Or Santi Claus. Seen as a replacement for the deceased Jack Wilshere, the versatile midfielder will add further depth to the Gunners squad, no doubt becoming first team regular as the season progresses. The Van Persie deal is in danger of becoming THE non event of the summer, as Arsenal continue to frustrate Sir Fergs who went public along with Rooney about their desire to bring him into the fold. Should all else fail, Man U  could always bring in a speedy Jamaican to bulldoze through defences next season following Usain Bolt’s plea for a trial. Rio being the right man to ask for help during a trial of course.

Marseille’s Cesar Azpilicueta is apparently on Chelsea’s hotlist of defenders, following a number of pre-season defeats and reoccurring defensive problems. The right back has been on the fringes of the Spanish national squad also making one appearance during the Olympics but beyond that very little is known in the UK.

Joe Allen to Liverpool was finally confirmed late on Friday, moving from Swansea in a reported deal worth £15m. Quite what has happened to the ‘player protection’ clause chairman Huw Jenkins informed of us back in early June is anyone’s guess, although a £15m return for the Welsh club makes financial sense. Meanwhile Michael Laudrup will welcome Israeli striker Itay Shechter from Kaiserslautern on a one year loan, following the news he will be granted a work permit.

Craig Bellamy has returned to Cardiff, this time in a permanent move back home as he heads into the final years of his career. One of the stand out players for Liverpool last season and again for Great Britain at the Olympics, he will need to be replaced by Rodgers and whilst Stuart Downing will hopefully provide some assists this season, the problem of width may well continue to plague Liverpool’s progression.

The most popular midfield surname in football returns to the Premiership, or at West Ham to be more exact, after ten years journeying around the French league. One time Liverpool man Alou Diarra becomes what seems to be the four thousandth player to join the Hammers, this week agreeing a three year deal.

Markus Rosenberg – most famous for his involvement in the Denmark/Sweden fan attack a few years back – joined West Brom, although manager Steve Clarke has admitted the striker is unlikely to be match fit for the start of the season due to his involvement in the Euro’s. Romelu Lukaku can also include himself as part of West Brom’s strike force following the news of his season long loan from Chelsea. The west London connection was key in securing the ‘new Drogba’ for the Hawthornes, a tag that intrigues most football fans curious to see if he can grow into a potent striker. No doubt this season there will be reports of the ‘new new Drogba’ breaking all kinds of reserve scoring records somewhere in Europe, so Lukaku will have to make the most of his opportunities. Loan signings are still proving to be an affective source of player recruitment in the Prem, Stoke also joining the fray with their fourth signing of the summer as Goran Popov joins from Dynamo Kiev for a year. Wolves winger Matt Jarvis has apparently handed in a transfer request, following a £9m bid from West Ham being rejected by the club.

The Community Shield kicks off later today at the rather odd time of 1.30pm at Villa Park, as the Wembley and Millennium stadiums have taken a fair amount of traffic over the past couple of weeks. There are no new faces so far for Manchester City to boast of so all eyes will be on Eden Hazard, with expectations as high as his price tag. Roberto di Matteo will also be a man in the spotlight now that the cup competitions have been reset and the core issues at Chelsea will have to be resolved if league progression is to take place. Lack of new faces at City is continuing to frustrate Mancini who claims that the defending champions start as ‘third or fourth’ favourites to retain the title. Queue violins.

I mentioned last week the disparity between the current Olympics and modern football in the UK and as the best event of 2012 so far comes to a close, any upward momentum toward a flourishing start to the season appears to be absent. These Games have highlighted the many personal stories of men and women all working toward one goal every four years, congratulating the fiercest of rivals who share the exact same physical wear and tear over time, offering grace in victory and defeat, even going as far as to give everything to a teammate on a broken leg. It has been a sobering experience in many respects and you hope some of it has pierced the Premier bubble so players can appreciate just how privileged and self important the whole charade has become.

We’ll be back again next week fully prepared for kick off, so breathe a deep sigh once the Olympic flag is passed onto Rio and try to remember that football is also a game we all once followed. Although watching England against Italy could prove to be the straw to break the back. See y’all next week.