Deadline day sparks final spree

Why do we always tend to do things at the last minute? Why can we never fill in tax forms until the day of reckoning, for example? And what possible logic leads us to check for passports when we are already at the airport? Almost all of us can relate to questions like these and football clubs are no exception. The winter transfer window lasts a whole month, but each year produces yet another desperate rush of activity in the final few hours.

Despite the lack of major names changing camps, this January followed the familiar pattern as the transfer hum reached a roaring crescendo just before midnight. Pompey manager Harry Redknapp snapped up English international Jermain Defoe from Tottenham, having brought Czech forward Milan Baros on board a few days previously. For their part, Spurs finally reached an agreement late into the night over the transfer of Brazilian Gilberto from Hertha Berlin, while they also sanctioned the loan departure of defender Anthony Gardner to Everton.

In addition to signing Benjani, Sven-Goran Eriksson chose to bolster City's midfield by capturing attack-minded Serb Marko Perovic from Red Star Belgrade, and they also managed to entice 17-year-old Italian Filippo Mancini away from Inter Milan, where he had been coached by his own father, Roberto. Elsewhere, winger Wayne Routledge will be hoping for more playing time at Aston Villa after making just two appearances for Spurs this term and Middlesbrough have snapped up highly-rated striker Afonso Alves from Heerenveen.

The January transfer window often inspires a few emergency purchases by teams facing a struggle to stay up, and that certainly looks to have been the case at Fulham. The Londoners completed last-gasp deals for Finnish veteran Jari Litmanen - who returns to the Premiership six years after leaving Liverpool - and his compatriot Toni Kallio from Young Boys of Berne.

The move reunites both men with an old acquaintance in current Fulham coach Roy Hodgson, who left the Finland job to take over at Craven Cottage. Meanwhile, Fulham's rivals Bolton will be looking to climb the table after snaring defender Gary Cahill from Aston Villa and Polish striker Grzegorz Rasiak, who joins on loan from Southampton. Lastly, Derby County may only be playing for honour given their meagre tally of eight points, but that was not enough to dissuade Everton's Alan Stubbs from taking up a new challenge there.

Brazilnight in Paris
Over on the other side of the Channel, Paris Saint-Germain had stunned their own fans by remaining silent on the transfer front following a disappointing start to the campaign. The capital outfit finally roused themselves into action as time ticked down, however, and there was a distinctly Brazilian accent to their recruitment policy as frontman Everton Santos signed from Corinthians and midfielder Williamis de Souza left Sao Paulo behind him. They replace departed duo Pierre-Alain Frau and Marcelo Gallardo.

Further north, RC Lens allowed Luigi Pieroni to return to his native Belgium with Anderlecht and filled the void by welcoming Loic Remy from six-time champions Lyon, where the youngster experienced real difficulty in laying claim to a starting berth.

A few hundred kilometres to the south, AS Monaco were extremely busy on the final day of trading as they brought in Croat Nikola Pokrivac from Dinamo Zagreb - just a few hours after employing Uruguayan attacking midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez from Danubio and Cruzeiro's Brazilian defender Romeu Fabio Santos. Stade Rennais got in on the act too, after taking a shine to Felix Katongo. The Zambian was unable to help his team progress in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, but he did enough to impress Brittany side Rennes after spending two years in the Angolan league.

In Spain, scouts took less interest in the African game but still managed to cast their nets wide. Having qualified for the Copa del Rey semi-finals on Thursday, Racing Santander will look to go all the way with ex-Independiente and Boca Juniors attacking midfielder Sergio Orteman, after luring the Uruguayan from Istanbul BB. Orteman is also joined by young Peruvian Damian Ismodes, who makes the journey from Sporting Cristal and already boasts three international caps at 18 years of age.

Demonstrating their penchant for South Americans once again, Villarreal raided the Swedish championship to sign 26-year-old Uruguayan midfielder Sebastian Eguren, who is now set to compete in his fifth different country after passing through Uruguay, Mexico, Norway and Sweden. As for Argentinian Marcos Sebastian Aguirre, the recent Apertura winner with Lanus will take his first steps on the European stage with Valladolid, where he will team up with Bulgarian forward Vladimir Manchev, who is back at the club following a loan spell with Celta Vigo. Fellow promoted sides Murcia and Almeria also opted to strengthen their squads, bringing in Moroccan Abderrahman Kabous from CSKA Sofia and young Real Madrid prospect Miguel Angel Nieto respectively.

Makinwa out, Rozehnal in
The majority of Serie A outfits in the market for new talent kept their focus firmly within Italian borders. Thus, Sampdoria opened their doors for Uruguayan defender Martin Miglionico after agreeing terms with Serie B side Piacenza for the former Estudiantes de la Plata man. Another player on his way out of Piacenza is Morocco's Houssine Kharja, who is Siena-bound along with former Genoa employee Manuel Coppola. As for Torino, they beat the transfer-window deadline with swoops for Marco Pisano and erstwhile Italian international Aimo Diana, both of whom bid goodbye to Palermo.

One of the more intriguing last-day deals centred around little-used Lazio man Stephen Makinwa, who has helped Nigeria reach the CAF Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals and can now celebrate a new start to his career at Reggina. It is not all one-way traffic at Lazio, though, as Newcastle's Czech defender David Rozehnal sealed a loan switch to the capital club after merely six months in England. Rounding off the movements in Italy, Udinese recruited Brazilian left-back Aoas Vidal Moreno from Botafogo.

In Germany, Werder Bremen were the busiest club of all as midnight loomed and managed to get their man in the form of Schalke's German U-21 international Mesut Ozil. The 19-year-old midfielder has already contested 30 Bundesliga games and four UEFA Champions League encounters, and he replaces both Carlos Alberto - after the Brazilian agreed to an 18-month loan stretch with Sao Paulo - and new Bayern Munich recruit Tim Borowski. Also in Germany, MSV Duisburg put their faith in Romanian Claudiu Niculescu from Dinamo Bucharest and Argentinian Fernando Avalos, signed from Portuguese team Nacional Madeira.

Elsewhere in Europe, Panathinaikos pulled off a coup by bringing Angolan starlet Manucho in on loan. The striker has been in sparkling form on Ghanaian soil and joins the Greek outfit just weeks after making Manchester United his home. Jiri Jarosik is on the move as well, heading to Russian side Krylia Sovetov from Scottish giants Celtic, while Edgaras Jankauskas will be returning to Portugal with Belenenses. A UEFA Champions League winner with Porto in 2004, the Lithuanian forward has spent time with Nice, Kaunas, Hearts and Larnaca since his previous stint in the Portuguese league.

All these players will now be concentrating on the challenges that await them as they aim to justify the commitments made by their new clubs. It promises to be a tough time for fans of high-profile transfer dealings too, as the marketplace does not open again until the summer. Do not despair, though, as promises to keep you up to date with all the breaking news from the world of football between now and then!