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City make mark in transfer window

February 02, 2009 11:26 IST

Manchester City failed with the most audacious transfer bid in years but despite Kaka's refusal to move from AC Milan the world's richest club still left their fingerprints all over the January transfer window.

As a statement of intent, City's 100 million pounds offer was about as bold as it gets and, undeterred by the Brazilian rebuff, they spent perhaps 50 million pounds on a bunch of players that should still improve the squad.

Real Madrid were one of the few clubs to get near that spending but even then, most of the $50 million (34.75 million pounds) they splashed out on Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Lassana Diarra came directly from the money City gave them for Robinho last year.

Tottenham Hotspur, looking to claw their way out of the Premier League relegation fight, also risked big money to bring in reinforcements, including a couple of familiar faces, but elsewhere there were signs of belts being tightened.

There were hardly any significant deals in Germany or France, while no one tried to compete with Real Madrid in Spain.

In England there were plenty of players costing around five million pounds from clubs scrapping it out down the table, but Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal stayed out of the market when they could arguably have done with players to boost their chances of deposing Manchester United.

In that sense, the lack of noise from some of Europe's biggest clubs was perhaps the most eloquent statement about the transfer market during this global credit crunch.

Manchester City, owned by Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayad al Nahyan, have no such problems as they try to break into the elite and they certainly made the big clubs take notice with their bid for Kaka.

"It was a big, bold statement of intent from Manchester City," Dan Jones, editor of the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance, told Reuters.

"They were saying they wanted a place at the top table, not to be just another Premier League club.

"I said before that even if it didn't go through it would move them to the next level and I think that's happened."

The players that City did manage to recruit were of more modest reputation but they should help the club move closer to the race for Champions League places.

In came Nigel de Jong from Hamburg SV for 16 million pounds, Craig Bellamy from West Ham for 14 million pounds, Wayne Bridge from Chelsea for 12 million pounds and Shay Given, the Newcastle United goalkeeper, presumably for another decent chunk.

Gone are the days when Real Madrid would sign one player of the Galactico class per season and leave it at that. Zinedine Zidane, for example, cost 66 million euros (58.41 million pounds) in 2001 and that remains the transfer record.

Real were forced into the transfer market this time to try to keep within sight of runaway leaders Barcelona, who are playing so well they obviously have no need of reinforcement.

Real's outlay brought them a solid midfielder in Diarra, a 20 million pounds buy from Portsmouth, and Huntelaar, a striker in the style of their own Ruud van Nistelrooy, for 20 million euros.

You had to look to the Premier League to find anyone with that liquidity.

Tottenham re-signed Jermain Defoe from Portsmouth for 15 million pounds, risked almost as much on signing Wilson Palacios from Wigan and also brought back France defender Pascal Chimbonda from Sunderland.

Manchester United, sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League, could afford to take a long-term view by signing the promising young pair Zoran Tosic and Adem Ljajic from Partizan Belgrade for a reported 16 million pounds.

The transfer window in France was absolutely quiet.

Olympique Marseille signed Brazilian Brandao from Shakhtar Donetsk and Sylvain Wiltord on a six-month loan from Stade Rennes but there were few other deals of note.

Hamburg have so far kept the De Jong money to themselves, while Bayern Munich, careful with their money as ever, have been loath to strengthen their squad despite the challenge from up-and-coming Hoffenheim.

It was a similar story in Italy, where speculation about Inter Milan bidding for Chelsea's Didier Drogba came to nothing.

AC Milan's one significant deal was to draft in David Beckham on a loan deal that may or may not be extended.

It was that sort of transfer period -- plenty to talk about, but outside the Premier League, little money changing hands.

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