"It's a marathon, not a sprint" is a phrase oft-quoted in football circles. And while the January transfer window may seem like a marathon to begin with, it almost always ends in frantic fashion as the clock ticks down. FIFA.com gives you a run-down of the deals that were signed in the last few hours before the window shut.
The transfer window can also resemble a giant game of musical chairs, and when the music stopped in England last night, things had certainly taken on a different look for Chelsea. The west London club picked up not only Brazilian international defender David Luiz, but also Liverpool's highly-coveted Spanish forward Fernando Torres. "Chelsea are the type of team I enjoy playing against and also the type that I would love to play for," said El Niño as he signed his new contract. "It's my dream to win the Champions League, and I believe that I can do that with Chelsea."
The Reds, for their part, had clearly resigned themselves to losing their star striker but, after making two big signings of their own, could find themselves just as well equipped in the long run. The first of these saw the five-time European Cup winners prise Luis Suarez away from Ajax. The Uruguayan attacker, who scored 113 goals in 156 matches for the Dutch club as well as making the semi-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, will have the privilege of playing alongside Andy Carroll. The newly-minted England international has certainly caught the eye this season in the Premier League, which is why Liverpool were willing to pay Newcastle over 40 million euros for the towering goal-getter.
Much of the action in Germany centred on Wolfsburg, who earlier this month let striker Edin Dzeko join Manchester City. The 32 million euro transfer fee was put to good use, with the 2009 Bundesliga winners picking up no fewer than six new players. These included three forwards – Congolese striker Dieumerci Mbokani from Monaco, German international Patrick Helmes from Bayer Leverkusen and Turkey's Tuncay Sanli from Stoke City – along with left-back Yohandry Orozco from Venezuelan club Zulia, Czech midfielder Jan Polak from Anderlecht and young Korea Republic star Koo Ja-Chael, who was joint top-scorer at the recently concluded 2011 AFC Asian Cup.
Schalke 04 already gave their squad a make-over last summer and there were more comings and goings in Gelsenkirchen in January. The Bundesliga outfit picked up Greece's Angelos Charisteas, who was out of contract after leaving Ligue 1 strugglers Arles-Avignon and who knows all about German football, having previously plied his trade for Werder Bremen, Nuremberg and Bayer Leverkusen. Iranian international Ali Karimi has also left Tehran club Steel Azin to be reunited with Felix Magath, who was his coach during his spell at Bayern Munich. Leaving Germany, meanwhile, are Ghana's Prince Tagoe, on loan from Hoffenheim to Partizan Belgrade, and USA international Michael Bradley, who has departed Borussia Monchengladbach to join Aston Villa, also on a temporary basis.
The latter is the son of USA coach Bob Bradley, and his arrival in the West Midlands meant that Stephen Ireland was surplus to requirements at Villa Park. The former Irish international has joined Newcastle on loan, while a former Magpie, Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins, has joined Aston Villa's local rivals Birmingham from Rubin Kazan, also on loan. Irish international Robbie Keane is moving from north to east London, with Tottenham lending his services to bottom club West Ham for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, former Spurs striker Eidur Gudjohnsen is heading back to the capital, the Icelandic man joining relegation-threatened Fulham on loan from Stoke.
Having failed to settle at Sunderland, Northern Ireland’s David Healy is again going out on loan, this time north of the border to Rangers, who have also picked up Senegal striker El-Hadji Diouf from Blackburn. Nigeria's John Utaka, who suffered relegation from the English Premier League last season with Portsmouth, is back in France after an absence of three-and-a-half years, this time linking up with Montpellier. Young Brazilian international Andre will also be trying to make his mark in Ligue 1 after moving from Dynamo Kiev to Bordeaux, and may well face his adopted country if he is picked for A Seleção for the friendly against France on 9 February. Saint Etienne were also busy in January, acquiring Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Alonso from Monaco. Alonso's fellow countryman Gonzalo Bergessio is on the way out, however, with the forward off to join another Argentinian, Diego Simeone, who is the new coach of Serie A outfit Catania.
There were plenty of other transfers in Italy to report, both throughout January and on deadline day itself. AC Milan took their total of new recruits to five when they acquired international defender Nicola Legrottaglie. The 34-year-old Bari native was seeing little action at Juventus and was looking for a new challenge, which was also the case of Cristiano Zanetti. The former Roma and Inter Milan player is a year younger than Legrottaglie and has gone from Fiorentina to Brescia in a move aimed at helping the second-bottom side in Serie A stave off relegation. Juventus, meanwhile, have acquired promising young Cagliari striker Alessandro Matri, with Amauri thus surplus to requirements and shipped off to Parma.
And so, after a busy month which culminated in a manic final day, the transfer window is now shut once more. At least until the end of the season that is, at which point the wheeling and dealing can start all over again…