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English clubs splash big on transfers

ENGLISH clubs spent a record 160 million pounds (US$227.2 million) during the midseason transfer window which ended on Monday, with the biggest spenders being Manchester City.

The total at the close of business beat last year's previous record by 10 million pounds, according to figures released yesterday by business advisory company Deloitte.

City, which hired Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy, Nigel de Jong and Shay Given but failed to get AC Milan's Kaka in a world record bid, paid out more than 50 million pounds.

City is bankrolled by the oil-rich Abu Dhabi United Group, which took control of the Premier League club in September.

Tottenham Hotspur, which bought a group of players, including strikers Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe, spent 45 million.

Tottenham continued its policy of buying back former players on Monday when Keane returned to the club seven months after leaving in a 19-million-pound move to Merseyside giant Liverpool.

Media reports suggested Keane rejoined the Spurs for US$17 million and he could begin his second spell at the Premier League club this weekend when Tottenham face north London rival Arsenal.

Arsenal itself was sweating on completing a deal for Zenit St Petersburg play maker Andrei Arshavin after the transfer window officially closed.

Arshavin passed a medical in snowbound London and the two clubs were reported to have agreed a fee but hold-ups with Premier League paperwork meant the transfer was expected to be given the green light late yesterday.

Keane's move back to Tottenham, who also brought striker Defoe and defender Pascal Chimbonda back to White Hart Lane in January, was the biggest deal of a final day of trading that produced few headline-grabbing big-money transfers.

"It was a difficult decision to make to leave Tottenham in the summer," said Keane, whose "dream move" to Liverpool turned sour. "It proved not to be the right move for me. I know some Spurs fans will feel I let them down by leaving but I can assure them I shall be giving my all for this club."

Abu Dhabi-backed City, along with Tottenham, have been the most active side in the January market but their only involvement on Monday was to send surplus Brazil striker Jo out on loan to Everton for the rest of the season.

Lack of form

Chelsea's lack of spending after years of splashing Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's cash has been a surprise considering their injuries and lack of form, although they stepped in late on Monday to agree to a loan move for Inter Milan winger Ricardo Quaresma.

England's top-flight clubs were granted a conditional extension to the transfer window deadline on Monday because of heavy snowfall which had brought transport systems across the country to a standstill.

Wigan Athletic came to the rescue of French midfielder Charles N'Zogbia, who last week said he would never play for Newcastle United again while manager Joe Kinnear was in charge because of what he described as an insult.

N'Zogbia swapped places with Ryan Taylor who moved in the opposite direction.

Wigan allowed Stoke City to take striker Henri Camara on loan while bottom club West Bromwich Albion bolstered their ranks with loan deals for Youssouf Mulumbu of Paris St Germain and Juan Carlos Menseguez from San Lorenzo.

Former France international Olivier Dacourt, a familiar face around Premier League stadiums after spells at Everton and Leeds United, joined Fulham on loan from Inter Milan.

Portsmouth, who lost both Defoe to Spurs and Lassana Diarra to Real Madrid in January, recruited Angelos Basinas, a former European champion with Greece, on deadline day to aid their battle against relegation.


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