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04 June 2023

Premier spenders splash the cash

Mark Hughes spent £30m on Bellamy and De Jong (GETTY IMAGES)

By John McAuley

The Premier League proved it's almost immune to the current economic crisis by setting a record for spending in this season's January transfer window.

When the extended deadline passed on Tuesday morning, top-flight clubs had splurged an estimated £160 million (Dh846m) on new players – an increase of £10m on last year and £100m in 2007.

Two established sides staring at relegation heavily supplemented the mid-season shopping spree. Manchester City and Tottenham both began the season with expectations of mounting challenges for Champions League places, but have found themselves embroiled in a battle at the opposite end of the table.

When Harry Redknapp took over from Juande Ramos in October, Spurs had picked up only two points from their opening eight games. Despite an immediate upturn in fortunes, the London club have failed to win five of their past six league games and Redknapp sought to strengthen the squad he recently labelled "mish-mashed".

In came Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane, Wilson Palacios, Pascal Chimbonda and Carlo Cudicini for a reported £48m – perhaps a small price to pay to preserve Premier League status.

Mark Hughes was busy this window too, outlaying £47m to solidify Manchester City's precarious league standing – his side are five points above the relegation zone – and help take his ailing team to "the next level." While the club's public pursuit of Kaka, AC Milan's brilliant Brazilian, ended in embarrassment, Hughes swelled his staff with some astute signings.

Wayne Bridge, a classy left-back, arrived from Chelsea for £12m and was followed to the Eastlands by Hamburg's Nigel De Jong and West Ham's Craig Bellamy. Both deals were thought to be in the region of £15m. Goalkeeper Shay Given completed the spending funded by the Abu Dhabi United Group.

City's rivals Manchester United were the third biggest spenders – although some £30m short of second place – when they invested in the club's future by attaining the services of Serbia starlets Zoran Tosic and Adem Ljajic for £16.3m.

Out of the 101 transfers and loans recorded in a fraught five weeks, six included fees of £10m or above, in stark contrast to the usually frugal January sales that have yielded only six £10m-plus signings since the inception of the window in 2003.