Top flight clubs look to buy before 11pm transfer deadline

PREMIER League transfer activity yesterday began to build to it’s traditional dramatic transfer window climax ahead of today’s 11pm deadline, with every club desperate to continue to strengthen to the last.

A wave of momentum has built over the last 48 hours in the pursuit of myriad transfers that have both already been completed and that have yet to take place with the London clubs among the busiest and particularly Queens Park Rangers leading the way.

Evidently not content with the eight players he has already signed, manager Mark Hughes yesterday secured the signature of Real Madrid’s Esteban Granero on a four-year contract and Marseille’s Stephane Mbia is expected to follow at some stage today.

Hughes’s busy tactics echo those witnessed when he was in charge at Manchester City in 2008 when he memorably almost signed Dimitar Berbatov, and it is he who is again likely to move with a return to London with Fulham the most conceivable conclusion. Manager Martin Jol yesterday confirmed he was undertaking a medical at the club, with Manchester United likely to receive between £3m and £5m for his transfer.

As that suggests, Manchester is again also a significant hub of the activity and it is Holland international Nigel de Jong at its centre, with he in talks with AC Milan about a permanent City exit. Roberto Mancini’s side have also had a £6.2m bid accepted for Swansea winger Scott Sinclair and – prudently – the Welsh club are looking to reinvest £5.5m of that in Valencia’s talented Spain international winger Pablo Hernandez.

CLUBS FAVOURING MORE SMALL DEALS

PREMIER League clubs will need to spend around £100m before tonight’s transfer deadline if they are to match the outlay of last summer.

Some £370m has already been lavished on new signings and a similar deadline-day bonanza to last August would see the 2011 total matched.

But despite the latest bumper broadcast rights deal with Sky and BT, which promises clubs an extra £14m per season from 2013-14, the number of big-money moves is down, according to a leading sports lawyer. Instead clubs are favouring more deals at lower prices, as they meet difficulties in obtaining loans and face up to Europe-wide plans to ensure they break even, says Graham Shear of Berwin Leighton Paisner.

“Clubs’ ability to pay big fees is being reduced partly by reduced bank finance which would normally be available to the larger clubs,” Shear, who advises clubs on deals, told City A.M.

“Although clubs will next year start to receive additional income from the new TV deal, banks are currently sensitive about the reputational issues of lending to the football industry at a time of reduced credit liquidity.”