Clubs have just over a month to conclude transfer deals ahead of the forthcoming Premier League campaign. With the adoption of a new rule that reduces the number of homegrown players on the field of play from eight to seven, therefore allowing four ‘foreigners’, most of the deals involve foreign players.
After winning the championship last season, champions Birkirkara secured the services of Brazilian goalkeeper Ezequiel Lovizon, Andrew Decesare and recently Emiliano Lattes who had started the season with Sliema. A Brazilian defender Leonardo Da Silva is also being linked with the club although no deal has been concluded yet.
Manuel Bartolo should replace Omar Borg as the club’s second goalkeeper with the latter moving to Hamrun Spartans. No longer in the squad since last season, besides goalkeeper Jorge Mora, is Carlo Mamo whose loan spell expired at the end of the season. George Mallia is also expected to leave the club after failing to sign a new contract.
Valletta will once again start as one of the main challengers for the title after making some important signings. Under the guidance of the Jesmond Zerafa and Leonard Farrugia as coaches and with Jesmond Zammit as team manager, the Citizens will be aiming to do what they failed to over the past two years – win the championship. They signed Malta international defender Jonathan Caruana and three new foreigners namely Lucas Ramon Dos Santos from Qormi, Denni Rocha Dos Santos from Tarxien Rainbows and Omonigho Temile. There is still one place left, possibly for a foreign striker. Ian Zammit is back with the club after spending the last six months on loan with Hamrun Spartans while Kurt Magro returned with the club after being on loan with Tarxien.
Luke Dimech and Njongo Priso are no longer with the club with the latter joining Ton Caanen and Jordi Cruijff at AEK Larnaca in Cyprus. Justin Grioli was transferred to Tarxien Rainbows as part of the deal which brought Denni to Valletta while Stefan Giglio and Jonathan Bondin moved to Qormi as part of the transfer of Ramon. Cleavon Frendo also joins Qormi on loan. Massimo Grima and David Camilleri were loaned once again but to a different destination – Hamrun Spartans after both spent the last couple of years with Qormi and Tarxien respectively. Jonathan Francica, Bjorn Bondin, Rennie Forace and Dylan Grima were loaned to Balzan Youths in Division 1, Adrian Carabott and Yessous Camilleri to Zejtun Corinthians and Rabat Ajax respectively in Division 2.
After a rather disappointing season, Sliema Wanderers were determined to strengthen their squad. They changed their foreign line-up releasing Lucian Dronca, Julio Alcorse and Pedro Calcado, signing four foreigners for their UEFA Europa League commitments. These included Hungarian goalkeeper Viktor Szentpeteri and Ivory Coast defender Sekou Tidiane Souare. The other two foreigners are expected to be young Portuguese midfielder Valdo Alhinho and Nigerian forward Obinna Obiefule who played for Hamrun Spartans last season, joining them in January. Emiliano Lattes, who joined the club in June, was not retained. Beppe Muscat, who was on loan with Vittoriosa, could be retained by the club while Adam Spiteri should join the Wanderers from Msida St. Joseph. Ryan Fenech’s loan from Hamrun Spartans expired. No longer in the club’s plans are Ian Ciantar and Simon Agius.
After finishing fourth last season, Qormi will be having several changes in their squad and technical staff. Stephen Azzopardi has been appointed as coach and will be assisted by Charles Scerri. They will have a completely new foreign line-up as Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo, Ramon Dos Santos and Alfred Effiong are no longer with the club. Massimo Grima, Ryan Deguara and Duncan Pisani’s loan terms expired while Kenneth Spiteri joined Mosta on loan.
Qormi have so far secured the services of Jonathan Bondin and Stefan Giglio, who were already on loan with the club, and Cleavon Frendo, all from Valletta. They signed Ben Camilleri on loan from Hibernians and Luke Sciberras from St. Patrick. Qormi are keen to retain Matthew Bartolo who was on loan from Sliema over the past six months. Joseph Chetcuti is back with the club after spending the last part of last season on loan with Vittoriosa. A number of foreigners are currently on trial with the club.
Tarxien Rainbows, once again under the guidance of coach Noel Coleiro, lost important assets in Denni Rocha Dos Santos, David Camilleri and Andrew Decesare who joined Valletta, Hamrun Spartans through Valletta and Birkirkara. Anderson Mendes Ribeiro was not retained. Simon Shead and James Shead were loaned to Mosta and Mqabba respectively. Warren Chircop, who missed most of last season, has been loaned to Hibernians.
Brazilian defender Everton Antonio Pereira will be one of the club’s foreigners, probably along another three Brazilian players. Justin Grioli made his move a permanent one while other new signings include Sergio Hili from San Gwann, Julian Vella from Mosta and veteran Orosco Anonam from Floriana.
With Mark Miller confirmed as coach, Hibernians have so far signed three new players, Paul McManus, Matthew Clarke and Warren Chircop who joins the club on loan from Tarxien. The Paolites are expected to sign more foreigners after Christian Callejas, Miguel Lopes De Pina and Elton Morelato were not retained. Ben Camilleri was loaned to Qormi while Adrian Pulis and Aaron Xuereb are also expected to move elsewhere. An interesting signing could be that of Matthew Robert Gauci who returns to Malta after playing for non-league side Lowestoft Town in England.
After a rather disappointing season, Floriana have appointed Todor Raykov as their new coach. They managed to lure back to the club two former players – Manolito Micallef and Christian Cassar on loan from Hamrun Spartans and Marsaxlokk respectively. The latter already spent the last season on loan with the club but was unlucky to suffer an injury early in the season which ruled him out. Pablo Doffo is the only confirmed foreign player and the Greens are now seeking new foreigners among those on trial who include two goalkeepers. Veterans Orosco Anonam and Sunday Eboh left, or are on the verge of leaving the club, but on his way in, is expected Malta Under-21 international Tyrone Farrugia. Duncan Pisani is back after a loan spell with Qormi.
Hamrun Spartans could field once again the Fenech brothers – Roderick and Ryan after the latter returned with the club after a one-year loan with Sliema. The Spartans also managed to retain Roderick who was attracting the interest of other clubs. Foreigners Martin Hrubsa and Marcelo Pereira were confirmed while Obinna Obiefule who joined the club late last season has moved to Sliema. One new foreigner for Hamrun should be Scottish striker Dene Shields. New arrivals include a former player of the club David Camilleri who joins the club from Valletta together with Massimo Grima. Omar Borg will join Hamrun from Birkirkara. Besides Obiefule, no longer with the club are Manolito Micallef and John Debattista who were loaned to Floriana and Mqabba respectively while Mark Anthony Bonnici, Clyde Camoin and Neville Galea were transfer-listed. Steve D’Amato was confirmed as coach.
Newly-promoted Marsaxlokk will be aiming to stay in the Premier League following a quick return to the top division. Since last season, they lost the services of Florent Raimy but managed to strengthen their squad with the signed of two experienced foreign players Alfred Effiong and Julio Alcorse. They join Emil Yantchev and Rumen Galabov. The Southseasiders also have another two foreigners on trial – Neale McDermott and Ruben Alexandre Guerreiro. Carlo Mamo could be transferred to Tarxien Rainbows. Coach Patrick Curmi will be leading once again the team.
Vittoriosa Stars are also working hard to strengthen their squad. Their main signing so far is Brazilian striker Jorge Santos Silva while Mauro Brincat will be staying on another one-year loan from Floriana. Goalkeeper Henry Bonello will be guarding the posts once again after spending last year on loan from Sliema Wanderers.