Football fans everywhere know the pattern well by now. The last few hours before the transfer window slams shut are always the most hectic, and this summer proved no exception as yesterday's deadline approached. Robinho, Dimitar Berbatov and Ricardo Quaresma were merely the most notable movers on a day peppered with transfers; one which FIFA.com now reflects on.
All eyes were on Manchester as dawn broke, and while United finally recruited Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov after weeks of negotiations with Tottenham Hotspur, it was neighbours City who ultimately stole the headlines. Flush with funds after a fresh takeover, the side coached by Mark Hughes snared Brazilian star Robinho from Real Madrid, despite the player making clear his desire to join Chelsea.
Despite losing Berbatov, Spurs had much to cheer on Monday as they brought in Spartak Moscow's Russian forward Roman Pavlyuchenko, plus Croatian defender Vedran Corluka from Manchester City. Meanwhile, Everton roused themselves from a quiet summer on the transfer front to capture Manchester United striker Louis Saha, along with talented young Standard Liege midfielder Marouane Fellaini and Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Carlo Nash, brought in to back up Tim Howard.
Their city rivals Liverpool got in on the action, too, loaning Ukrainian marksman Andriy Voronin to Hertha Berlin and snapping up attacking midfielder Albert Riera from Espanyol. Republic of Ireland international Steve Finnan moved in the opposite direction, joining Catalan outfit Espanyol.
Elsewhere in Spain, Real Zaragoza bade farewell to a number of their star attractions; the price to be paid for falling out of the top flight last term. Thus, UEFA EURO 2008 winner Sergio Garcia agreed terms with Real Betis, while French midfielder Peter Luccin will soon get to know his fourth club in La Liga after signing for Racing Santander. Lastly, Argentinian goalscorer Diego Milito joined Italian Serie A side Genoa after being pursed by some of the continent's biggest names.
Valencia's French goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle is another player leaving Spain behind as he begins a season-long loan spell at Lille, having turned out for Valladolid in a similar arrangement last term. Ivorian Kanga Akale swapped Lens for Recreativo Huelva, meanwhile, and the northern French outfit's Algerian defender Nadir Belhadj left for Portsmouth, to be replaced by Tunisia's Alaeddine Yahia, formerly of Nice.
Also in France, Marseille hope to have bolstered their creaky defence by taking Derby County's Tyrone Mears on loan. For their part, Saint-Etienne pinpointed their attack as the weak link in the chain and picked up Lille's Kevin Mirallas, a semi-finalist at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 with Belgium.
In Italy, champions Inter Milan began the summer by installing a Portuguese coach on the bench, and they ended it by swooping for a Portuguese player to light up the pitch. An explosive winger during his time at Porto, Ricardo Quaresma joins the club now guided by Jose Mourinho. Promoted sides Chievo and Lecce had bids accepted on the final day, too, with the former capturing Brazilian youngster Kerlon from Cruzeiro and the latter going for his compatriot Eduardo Costa, signed from Espanyol after spells with Bordeaux, Marseille and Gremio.
South Americans proved a popular choice in Greece as well, with AEK Athens completing the transfer of Argentinian midfielder Agustin Pelletieri, winner of the Apertura 2007 with Lanus. Likewise, Panathinaikos persuaded Fluminense's Brazilian defender Gabriel to give Europe another crack following a previous stint with Malaga in 2005. Beaten finalists in the Copa Libertadores 2008, Fluminense also waved goodbye to their prolific attacking midfielder Thiago Neves, now of Hamburg.
Soon after those deals went through, time was called on summer trading, leaving coaches, players and fans alike to wait until January for football's equivalent of musical chairs to start up again. Naturally enough, FIFA.com will be there when it does.