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Football | Barclays Premier League

EPL strugglers invade transfer market



With the top teams keeping quiet, the Premier League's strugglers were most active on the final day of the January transfer window as they scrambled around for players to help save them from relegation.

Queens Park Rangers, which is four points adrift at the bottom of the standings, signed defender Christopher Samba from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala for a reported club-record fee of 12 million pounds ($19 million), while manager Harry Redknapp was actively chasing a striker late Thursday.

"Chris is just what we need," Redknapp said of Samba, who used to play in the Premier League with Blackburn. "He's a monster ... This is an unbelievable signing."

Norwich bought Argentine striker Luciano Becchio from Leeds, third-bottom Wigan brought in Austria defender Paul Scharner on loan from Hamburg, while Fulham took Netherlands midfielder Urby Emanuelson from AC Milan and Bulgaria right back Stanislav Manolev from PSV Eindhoven on loan.

Aston Villa, which dropped into the relegation zone this week, signed unheralded midfielder Yacouba Sylla from French club Clermont Foot.

Avoiding the drop to the second-tier League Championship is more important than ever this season, with topflight teams set to be boosted by increased revenues over the next three years after the popular Premier League secured record TV rights of 3.018 billion pounds ($4.69 billion).

It was, however, a slow deadline day compared to previous years in England, with the leading clubs reining in their last-ditch spending having already shaped their squads for the final few months of the season. Uefa's strict financial fair play rules, which are forcing clubs to only spend what they earn, will also have contributed to reduced transfer activity.

Manchester City, which signed five players on the last day of the August transfer window, completed the ?20 million ($27 million) sale of Italy striker Mario Balotelli to AC Milan and Tottenham sent reserve goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes on loan to German side Hoffenheim.

Elsewhere, mid-table Sunderland signed striker Danny Graham for 5 million pounds ($7.9 million) and Newcastle made Kevin Mbabu the club's sixth January acquisition by signing the defender from Swiss team Servette.

West Ham sent former France midfielder Alou Diarra on loan to Rennes in his native country and Stoke signed Brek Shea from Major League Soccer's FC Dallas for 2.5 million pounds ($4 million) after securing a work permit and international clearance for the United States winger.

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