Arsenal bolsters squad on busy deadline day
Arsenal was the most active of major clubs n transfer deadline day, strengthening its squad with four signings as under-fire manager Arsene Wenger acted late to arrest his team's struggles in the Premier League.
Sparked into life by his team's humiliating 8-2 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, Wenger signed Mikel Arteta from Everton and Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea in the final hour of the window to add some creativity to his midfield after the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Arsenal also reinforced its ailing defense Wednesday by bringing in Brazil left back Andre Santos from Fenerbahce and Germany center back Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen.
But while Arsenal and a number of other English clubs made a series of last-ditch moves in the transfer market, bringing the summer spending in the Premier League to more than 400 million pounds ($650 million), there were precious few blockbuster deals around the continent to capture the imagination.
The likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United kept their powder dry having already settled on their squads for this season. Italian giant Inter Milan hung on to Netherlands playmaker Wesley Sneijder after months of speculation about a move to United.
As ever, it was in England where most of the 11th-hour deals were made.
Chelsea signed Raul Meireles on a four-year deal from Liverpool, minutes after the Reds announced the Portugal midfielder had handed in a transfer request, and Manchester City wrapped up their active summer in the market by bringing in Owen Hargreaves on a one-year deal.
The former England midfielder was available on a free transfer, having been released by crosstown rival Manchester United after three injury-plagued years at Old Trafford.
But the real action came at Arsenal, which had plenty of cash to spend after selling Fabregas to Barcelona and Nasri to City for a combined reported fee of more than 50 million pounds.
While the signings Mertesacker and Santos may help shore up the team's creaking defense, the acquisition of Spanish playmaker Arteta and Benayoun, the Israel captain, will be particularly well received by fans used to seeing attractive football at Emirates Stadium.
Like Arsenal, north London rival Tottenham is also struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table and its manager Harry Redknapp was typically busy on deadline day.
He had limited success, however.
With the strikeforce bolstered last week with the addition of Emmanuel Adebayor on loan from Man City, Redknapp only succeeded in bringing in midfielder Scott Parker from relegated West Ham for 5 million pounds ($8.2 million).
In the opposite direction went David Bentley on a season-long loan, while Aston Villa signed midfielder Jermaine Jenas (loan) and defender Alan Hutton (permanent) from Spurs.
Tottenham's big success was resisting repeated bids over the summer from Chelsea for midfielder Luka Modric - a distraction Redknapp blames for the poor start.
''The chairman stood firm over Luka,'' Redknapp said. ''I think 40 million pounds was apparently offered yesterday ... it is a big offer to turn down, that's for sure. I am delighted the little man is still here.''
City, keen to offload some of the club's high-earners, managed to shift winger Shaun Wright-Phillips to Queens Park Rangers on a three-year deal and Wales forward Craig Bellamy, who returned to Liverpool on a two-year loan deal.
Liverpool lost a winger too, sending Joe Cole to Lille in the most high-profile deal in France on deadline day.
The England winger said he hopes a move to the French champions would give him a fresh start after a poor first season at Anfield following a move from Chelsea.
''I needed to have a new challenge and to go abroad, and Lille gave me that opportunity,'' Cole told Lille's website.
''The football played by Lille reminds me of the one played by Barcelona. I'd like the club to win again the league title this season.''
Fulham made two very late moves just before the window closed, signing Costa Rican winger Bryan Ruiz from Twente and Orlando Sa from Porto.
Lyon sold Bosnia international Miralem Pjanic to Roma for ?11 million ($15.8 million) but brought in Gueida Fofana from Le Havre on a four-year deal.
Sneijder is still at Inter, despite being heavily linked with a move to Man United for much of the summer.
''I will stay with Inter next season,'' Sneijder confirmed on Twitter late Wednesday. ''I respect all the Man. Utd fans, who supported me the whole transfer window! I'm a winner and I will make you Interisti proud this season!''
Inter did sign Argentine forward Mauro Zarate on loan from Lazio earlier in the day for ?2.7 million ($3.9 million) and agreed to pay a further ?15 million for a permanent transfer.
Juventus announced it acquired Netherlands winger Eljero Elia from Hamburg on a four-year contract for ?9 million ($13 million).
As well as Pjanic, Roma signed three more players: Denmark defender Simon Kjaer from Wolfsburg, forward Fabio Borini from Parma and Argentina midfielder Fernando Gago from Real Madrid.
In Germany, Wolfsburg's Felix Magath was the busiest coach as he tried to overhaul his team following a poor start to the season, signing Alexander Hleb from Barcelona and shipping out unwanted midfielder Diego to Atletico Madrid.
Both are loan deals, with Belarus midfielder Hleb secured until Dec. 31, while Diego will stay in the Spanish capital until the end of the season at least.