The much-hyped deadline day in Europe’s January transfer window passed with a flurry of late deals but few signings of note on Friday, with the richest teams opting to sit tight ahead of the last few months of the season.
The likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and the two Manchester giants decided not to dip into the market, while there were no headline-grabbing moves to match that of Fernando Torres to Chelsea in 2011 and David Beckham to Paris Saint-Germain last year.
That two of the most high-profile moves on Friday were loan signings – Italy striker Pablo Osvaldo to Serie A leader Juventus and Dimitar Berbatov to French title hopeful Monaco – said much about the largely subdued nature of the final day of the window.
Arsenal made a late foray, signing Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom on loan, the only major move by a top club as struggling Premier League sides scrambled around to strengthen their squads.
Kallstrom left Spartak Moscow to join Arsenal for the rest of the season in what was the title challenger’s only recruit of the January window.
Chelsea’s only signing was 19-year-old Saint-Etienne defender Kurt Zouma, who was immediately loaned him back to the French club until this summer, while Liverpool failed in its bid to sign Ukraine winger Yevhen Konoplyanka from Dnipro.
Otherwise, the late deals were exclusively being done by clubs battling to avoid relegation from the world’s richest league.
Next-to-last Fulham was very active, bringing in Germany midfielder Lewis Holtby on loan from Tottenham, Netherlands defender Johnny Heitinga on a free transfer from Everton and Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou from Olympiakos on a 4 1/2-year deal. Out of Craven Cottage went Dimitar Berbatov to French team Monaco – ending his eight-year stint in English football – Adel Taarabt to AC Milan and Philippe Senderos to Valencia.
Crystal Palace, which has just climbed out of the bottom three, was even busier, signing five players including winger Jason Puncheon on a permanent basis from Southampton and midfielder Joe Ledley from Celtic.
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer used his connections at former club Manchester United to sign winger Wilfried Zaha on loan and full back Fabio on a permanent deal, taking the number of signings by the bottom-place Welsh club this month to seven.
Third-bottom West Ham turned to Serie A for the third time this window to sign Napoli left back Pablo Armero on loan until the end of the season, mirroring the deals that have already seen Italy internationals Marco Borriello and Antonio Nocerino move to Upton Park.
Boosted by a huge three-year television deal taking effect at the start of the season, Premier League clubs spent more than 600 million pounds (then $932-million) in the summer transfer window.
Before Friday, they had splashed out 95 million pounds ($156-million) on acquiring new players in January, according to football finance experts Deloitte. It ensures English top-flight teams set a record for transfer spending this season, breaking the 700-million pounds ($1.15-billion) mark for the first time.
Having shattered Man United’s transfer record to sign Juan Mata for 37.1 million pounds ($61.2-million) from Chelsea, manager David Moyes spent deadline day offloading players. As well as Fabio and Zaha, Italian forward Federico Macheda was loaned out to second-tier Birmingham.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger turned to the 31-year-old Kallstrom, a veteran of 108 caps for Sweden, after seeing his team’s midfield options hit by injury and suspension.
Aaron Ramsey will be sidelined for up to six weeks following a setback in his recovery from a thigh problem, Jack Wilshere is also currently out injured and Mathieu Flamini is suspended for the next three matches.
“Kim Kallstrom is a hugely experienced player,” said Wenger, whose second-place side is a point behind Manchester City in the standings. “He is a midfielder with proven quality at both club and international level.”
Kallstrom, who is eligible to play in the Champions League, joined Spartak in 2012 after six years at French club Lyon.
Liverpool, Tottenham and Premier League leader Manchester City all failed to add to their squads in January.
Major European transfers in the January window
(fee in millions of dollars, * denotes undisclosed fee)
Kevin de Bruyne
Luuk de Jong