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Deadline drama grips Europe, not just Premier League

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Phil Minshull | 22:26 UK time, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

There's no denying it. It was Fernando Torres' deadline day move to Chelsea that made the headlines across Europe, and especially in his native Spain, when the winter transfer window finally closed on Monday.

Both of the main Spanish sports daily newspapers Marca and As had coverage of the move on their front pages on Tuesday as he became the most expensive Spanish player ever, joining Carlo Ancelotti's team for a reported £50m.

Some of the comment about the move related to the irony that he achieved such a feat without either of the Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid being involved.

However, even if the Premier League signings were the ones that caught the eye, there was still plenty of going on elsewhere in Europe on Monday, especially in Italy and Germany.

New Inter Milan coach Leonardo clearly believes that new blood is necessary if they are to sustain a run in this season's Champions League and qualify for next season's competition, even if defending their Serie A and European crowns now looks highly unlikely after Rafa Benitez managed to undo most of the work achieved by his predecessor Jose Mourinho in little more than four months.

Giampaolo Pazzini's arrival from Sampdoria on Friday already looks inspired after he got two goals in Inter's 3-2 win over Palermo on his debut on Sunday.

Fernando TorresTorres' next game for Spain will be as a Chelsea player. Photo: Getty

Inter also persuaded Cesena to part with the Japanese international Yuto Nagatomo, who many people think has been the best left back in Serie A this season, with their young defender Davide Santon going in the other direction.

The loan of Nagatomo could be a prelude for a summer bidding battle for him, which could include Inter themselves, Barcelona, Manchester United, Everton and Fulham, if Italian media reports are to be believed.

Italian international midfielder Amauri joined Parma on loan until the end of the season in a bid to put behind him his problems at Juventus, where he had been cast as the villain responsible for their dismal performance this season.

"My departure from Turin? Now we'll see if I am guilty," commented Amauri acidly in Tuttosport on Tuesday.

Serie A leaders Milan also strengthened their squad on Monday as they challenge for their first title since 2004, acquiring veteran former Italy defender Nicola Legrottaglie from Juventus on loan, with an option to sign him at the end of the season.

Former England boss Steve McClaren is clinging on to his job at German side Wolfsburg, and the 2009 Bundesliga champions bought five players on Monday to give him a helping hand.

Bayer Leverkusen's Patrick Helmes, Stoke City's Tuncay Sanli and Aderlecht's Jan Polak were all brought in as Wolfsburg's sporting director Dieter Hoeness, with money in his pocket from Edin Dzeko's move to Manchester City, attempts to change the stagnant atmosphere in the dressing room and move the club up the table from their current position of12th.

"We are now totally satisfied with the solution that we have found. We followed a strategic and also a short-term route because, as well as considering the development of the side, we also had to keep our current situation in our minds," said Hoeness on Tuesday.

Another interesting move in Germany on Monday was Schalke's signing of the veteran Iranian midfielder Ali Karimi, and they may have also got the bargain of the season when they bought Ghanaian midfielder Anthony Annan from Norwegian club Rosenborg for just 3m euros on Saturday.

Spain only saw six deals go through on Monday, the most notable being the loans of Giovani Dos Santos from Spurs to Racing Santander and Xisco from Newcastle to Deportivo.

Both players have made it known that they don't fancy a return to England in the summer, so expect for them to look for permanent moves to Spain.

In a quieter-than-usual January, perhaps an indication of the state of some clubs finances and the Spanish economy in general; the biggest names to move to Spain in have been players who are already familiar faces here.

Brazilian internationals, and former Real Madrid players, Cicinho and Julio Baptista found themselves back at La Liga clubs after being signed from Roma by Villarreal and Deportivo, respectively.

There were also two transfers to British clubs from Spain that didn't cause much of a commotion here but caught my eye: those of Ryan Burge and Ben Williamson, going from Jerez Industrial to Doncaster Rovers and Bournemouth, respectively.

You might remember that I wrote about Jerez Industrial back in mid-November and that there are close links to the Glenn Hoddle Academy, and mentioned the above two players as among their team's top players

Sadly, since then Jerez Industrial have gone through a rough patch and slid down to sixth place in their Tercera (Spanish fourth division) group, and they are now six points away from the top four who will contest the play-offs.

Obviously, their play-off chances have not improved by losing Burge and Williamson, who will be now playing at a higher level in England than they were in Spain, but in this instance I don't think Glen Hoddle will be too upset.

Beyond all the transfer hullabaloo in the past few days, there were two significant events on Saturday that seemed to have gone barely noticed outside of Spain, so I'm going to bring them to your attention.

The first was that Barcelona equalled Real Madrid's La Liga record of 15 wins on the trot with their 3-0 victory at Hercules which, coincidently, gained revenge for their only league defeat of the season

Real Madrid's record had stood untouched since the 1960-61 season, the era of Di Stefano, Puskas, Gento and many other legendary names.

They won the league by 12 points, six clear games, which has had various Spanish pundits semi-seriously suggesting that when Barca visit Real Madrid on April 17, six games before the end of the season, Pep Guardiola might put out what is effectively a reserve team to save Lionel Messi and the rest for the anticipated Spanish Cup final against Real three days later.

Now, Barcelona will aim to make the record their own at home to Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The second, and much sadder, event on Saturday was the death of José Llopis Corona in Alicante at the age of 92.

Corona was the last surviving member of the Real Madrid team that played the first match at what was then the New Charmartin stadium and was soon to be renamed the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid beat the Portuguese side Os Belenenses 3-1 in a friendly on December 14 1947, a four-week break in the league programme allowing Real to move lock, stock and barrel in the middle of the season from their old Metropolitano home nearby.

He played five seasons for Real Madrid and one of his first matches was the famous 11-1 win over Barcelona in the semi-finals of the 1943 Spanish Cup. He was widely considered to be one of Spain's best defender of the 1940s.


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