What, what, what? Julio Cesar signs with … QPR?

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What the …?

Julio Cesar, starting goalkeeper for Brazil at the last World Cup – a 2010 Champions League winner and a man who would still be the No. 1 at Inter Milan if Samir Handanovic hadn’t moved to the Nerazzurri this summer – has signed for Queen’s Park Rangers. And not only has he signed, he’s agreed to a four-year deal. And he’s smiling about it!

The United Kingdom’s Press Association (like our Associated Press) euphemistically labeled this a “shock transfer.” You think? At 32-years-old, Cesar is going from an Italian giant with whom he won five league titles to a team that barely stayed in the Premier League last season – a team whose talent base is, like the goalkeeper, a series of older players beyond their best days. But whereas the post-prime curve for a goalkeeper is still rather generous, QPR is hoping that players like José Bosingwa (30), Andrew Johnson (31), Ryan Nelson (34), and Park Ji-Sung (31) can reverse the fortunes of a team that was old before those veterans arrived.

Perhaps they can, but is this really a team that’s so appealing to someone like César? Trading Milan for London, and doing it for bottom-half football: This is how César wants to spend his last days before a Campeonato curtain call?

Given our trouble connecting the dots, we have to give credit to QPR. They got César, and if reports are to be believed, they only spent around $4 million to get him. You’d assume he’s moving for handsome wages, but maybe César just really likes the idea of playing in London. Maybe the English Premier League is that big of a drawing card. Or maybe his plan to impress Brazil head coach Mano Menezes ahead fo 2014 is to subject himself to as many shots on goal as possible, hopefully make some remarkable stops, and provide incontrovertible proof that he is still a top goalkeeper.

From the sound of things, though, César won’t be doing so for cheap. Here’s what he said about his surprise move:

“It all started during my summer vacation when Inter suggested that I reduce my salary. No player in my situation would have done that – I am not a hypocrite and I can talk openly about this. It became a tough situation for both parties.

“I then spoke to my representative and I thought this was a good choice. I’ll terminate my contract with Inter Milan and thank the president, Massimo Moratti, for the seven wonderful years we have had together.

“I’ll ask him to let me go on the pitch before the match between Inter and Roma so I can give a collective hug to all the fans. That would be a nice gesture, and I don’t think the president will deny me that.”

On QPR, specifically:

“I am a bit surprised, but I am delighted to have been given the opportunity by QPR to come to London, learn English and play in the Premier League.”

And he should play immediately. Queens Park Rangers had brought in England international Robert Green from West Ham United after Paddy Kenny moved to Leeds this summer, West Ham electing to go forward with former Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Over the first couple of weeks of the season, Green rekindled memories of his 2010 World Cup generosity to the United States, leaving goalkeeper a position of need for QPR.

Not that Green knew that. According to Mark Hughes, his former No. 1 was unaware QPR was in the market for a replacement, telling the press “I haven’t had a chance to really talk to [Green] about [the César signing].”

I’m sure he’ll be just as shocked as the rest of us.