Football clubs in record £215m transfer frenzy

ENGLAND’S top football clubs last night defied the downturn by embarking on a record-breaking £215m transfer spending spree.

Chelsea’s £50m signing of Fernando Torres and Liverpool’s £35m purchase of Andy Carroll were the day’s biggest deals as sides raced to recruit before the 11pm cut-off – their last chance to do business until the summer.

Deadline-day spending which exceeded £100m boosted the total for the entire January transfer window to around £215m, smashing the previous winter high of £170m in 2009.

The frenzied activity was in stark contrast to last January, when Premier League teams spent a meagre £30m.

Chelsea were the biggest spenders, shelling out more than £70m as billionaire owner Roman Abramovich abandoned his recently acquired taste for caution and returned to the largesse that followed his takeover in 2003. In addition to Spain striker Torres, the league champions agreed to pay Portuguese outfit Benfica £21m for the Brazilian defender David Luiz.

The departure of Torres from Liverpool prompted the Merseyside club to launch a dramatic final-day bid for Newcastle forward Carroll, who is now the most expensive British player of all time despite being just 21.

Experts said the “ripple effect” of clubs selling players and then ploughing money back into the market, as well as the unusually close nature of this season’s league, had contributed to the record outlay.

Dan Jones, of Deloitte’s sport business group, told City A.M.: “A couple of big deals can really move the needle.” Jones added: “If people are trying to make that next step or hold onto their current status that definitely makes an impact on how much they’re willing to spend.”