By Simon Hart
English clubs have been the biggest spenders in the January transfer window so far but the canniest piece of business by a club with UEFA Champions League ambitions may have come from Real Madrid CF.
Deadline on 1 February
With a fortnight remaining before the deadline for registering new players - 12.00CET on Tuesday 1 February - Liverpool FC's €9m swoop for Fernando Morientes has been the month's most expensive deal involving one of the competition's last 16.
Morientes and Chelsea FC's €4.3m Czech acquisition Jirí Jarošik may make telling contributions for their new clubs in the English Premiership but both are cup-tied in Europe, having already played in this season's Champions League. Consequently the most high-profile player to enter the competition next month looks like being Madrid's new Danish international, Thomas Gravesen, who arrived last Friday in a €3.5m transfer from Everton FC.
In addition to Gravesen, the Santiago Bernabéu club have brought back striker Javier Portillo from his loan spell at ACF Fiorentina, but the question of new contracts for Santiago Solari, César Sánchez and Albert Celades remains unresolved. While Madrid's rumoured interest in Brazilian ace Robinho refuses to go away, arch-rivals FC Barcelona may move for a striker before the deadline, having not yet replaced the injured Henrik Larsson. Udinese Calcio's Vincenzo Iaquinta is one possible target.
Arguably the most surprising move so far has been Adrian Mutu's arrival at Juventus FC. The Romanian striker was sacked by Chelsea in October and cannot play until May while he serves a ban for failing a drugs test. Otherwise, it is a case of watching the departure door at the Stadio Delle Alpi: Mark Iuliano has joined RCD Mallorca and Juve are listening to offers for Nicola Legrottaglie and Paolo Montero.
Milan plan ahead
Elsewhere in Italy, AC Milan have focused on planning ahead for the summer, when they want to secure the permanent transfer of Hernán Crespo from Chelsea and find a replacement for veteran full-back Cafu. As for neighbours FC Internazionale Milano, they remain on the lookout for a left-sided midfielder.
Arsenal talks inconclusive
In England, Liverpool signed defender Mauricio Pellegrino in addition to Morientes and he too is ineligible for Europe. Arsenal FC have brought in Ivory Coast youngster Emmanuel Eboué but contract talks with Edu and Lauren have proved inconclusive and the pair could depart in the summer. Manchester United FC, like Arsenal, may not be entirely satisfied by their goalkeeping options but no activity is expected before the summer.
In Germany, FC Bayern München are planning no further signings following Bixente Lizarazu's return to the Olympiastadion. However, other players may yet follow Piotr Trochowski out of the club. Thomas Linke and Samuel Kuffour are attracting interest from England but Bayern will likely allow only one of the defensive duo to leave. Bayer 04 Leverkusen, meanwhile, have focused on offloading players, and striker Mohamed Zidan is almost certain to be the only new face at Werder Bremen.
It has been a quiet month for French clubs AS Monaco FC and Olympique Lyonnais. Both missed out on Morientes and the only possible business now will concern outgoing strikers, with the futures of Shabani Nonda at Monaco and Lyon's Giovane Elber in question. Finally, while PSV Eindhoven have sat tight this month, the revolving door has barely stopped spinning at FC Porto. Derlei and Carlos Alberto have left for a combined €13m, and replacing them are another three Brazilians - left-back Leandro, midfield player Léo Lima and forward Cláudio Mejolaro.
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