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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 February, 2004, 14:19 GMT
The transfer window winners and losers
By Tom Fordyce

So that's it - the transfer window has slammed shut.

In all, there were nearly 100 moves involving Premiership clubs. But which managers found the best bargains - and which were left with a hole in their wallets and a look of horror on their faces?


Arsenal

Jose Antonio Reyes lines up for Spain
Reyes made an immediate impact on his Arsenal debut

Arsene Wenger can afford at least a guarded smile as January disappears behind him.

Six months ago, the escalating costs of the Ashburton Grove stadium project threatened to leave him unable to add to his squad except through free transfers.

Now, with the stadium funding falling into place, he has managed to sign a player who could become as important to Arsenal in the long run as Thierry Henry.

And Jose Antonio Reyes is not just about potential. While his best is probably at least two years away, his speed, directness and ability to create chances will have an immediate effect on Arsenal's Premiership and Champions League campaigns.


Aston Villa

Villa need players of proven Premiership ability. As such, Nolberto Solano will improve a side leaning towards mediocrity.

But Newcastle only let Solano go because they felt his best years were behind him. And Villa's squad - particularly with six players leaving last month - is still dangerously denuded.


Birmingham

This time last year, Steve Bruce splashed the City cash and secured Birmingham's Premiership future in the process.

With the aim this season not just survival but a European place, the failure to bring in a top-quality name is a serious disappointment.

With respect to Martin Taylor, Bruce would be a happier man if had persuaded Nicky Butt to swap Old Trafford for St Andrews.

But with the club announcing pre-tax profits of 3.3m last month, the money is there to strengthen the squad when the transfer window re-opens this summer.

With Birmingham safe from relegation, Bruce can afford to wait until there are more potential targets - at a cheaper price.


Blackburn

Winter continues to be a bleak period in the life of Graeme Souness.

Right on deadline day he finally tied up the signing of Huddersfield striker Jonathan Stead to go with the free transfer of Michael Gray.

But Everton refused his approach for Tomasz Radzinski, Brian McBride went to Fulham instead and Middlesbrough were not prepared to sell young winger Stewart Downing.

All of which leaves Rovers short of proven options up front - and lacking the injection of class which their struggle against relegation requires.


Bolton

The faces may change, but the story remains the same - Sam Allardyce is the undisputed king of the loan deal.

Will Donovan Ricketts, Javi Moreno and Jon Otsemobor all pay dividends? Maybe not.

But with Bolton pushing hard for a Uefa Cup place with a side built around other teams' cast-offs, Allardyce is rightly prepared to gamble once again.


Charlton

Let's cut to the chase: Charlton's January couldn't have been much worse.

Which player could they least afford to lose? Scott Parker. And while they got a good price for him, there was neither the time nor quality available to replace him like-for-like.


Chelsea

Did Chelsea need another midfielder? On the face of it, no. And if they did, surely it would be an out-and-out winger to compete with or replace Damien Duff and Jesper Gronkjaer.

But who has been their most impressive player this season? Frank Lampard. And he cannot play every Premiership, Champions League and FA Cup game.

Parker can slot into Lampard's role without a hitch. He can also play anywhere in a midfield diamond. Hey presto - a practical signing with instant benefits.


Everton

All is quiet on the Goodison front. The chequebook stayed shut and the meagre financial resources were left untouched.

Was David Moyes happy with this situation? Everton are only five points clear of the drop-zone. Draw your own conclusions.


Fulham

Let's give Brian McBride the chance to continue his fine start, but his previous spell at Everton does not suggest that he will be able to completely fill the gaping hole left by Louis Saha.

Chris Coleman has freshened up his squad with six new faces, losing four in the process - but this was a team whose success was largely based on Saha's goals and solo role up front.

Money makes the football world go round - but Coleman has every right to feel aggrieved by Saha's departure.


Leeds

Will the addition of Stephen Caldwell save Leeds from relegation? Hmmm.

The good news was that Roque Junior had his contract terminated. That was it.


Leicester

What do you do when your team's in freefall and the piggy-bank has already been emptied? Answer: go down to the charity shop and pick up the best cast-offs you can find.

Five years ago, the signings of Nikos Dabizas, Steve Guppy and Steffen Freund would have been the cause for optimism.

It's not five years ago.


Liverpool

The best additions to Gerard Houllier's squad were the players returning from injury.

When Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard come back into your team, you can keep your wallet trousered until the summer.


Manchester City

Kevin Keegan's January spending will make or break City's survival chances.

Current England goalkeeper David James in for old one David Seaman? Good deal. One continental defender in Daniel van Buyten for another, David Sommeil? We'll have to wait and see.


Manchester United

Louis Saha is congratulated by his new Manchester United team-mates
Saha - a winning start, but successful come May?

In the long-term, there's Liam Miller and Dong Fangzhou. That's all well and good.

For the next four months, it's all about Louis Saha. Sir Alex Ferguson was happy to pay over the odds because Saha fitted directly into his plans - free to play in Europe and able to play on his own up front.

Unlike Miller and Dong (and to a lesser extent Cristiano Ronaldo), Saha has been bought on the expectation of instant dividends.

If United fail to win the Premiership - which is possible - and do not triumph in the Champions League - likely - the size of the Saha deal will come right back into the spotlight.


Middlesbrough

The arrival of a Brazilian international should be enough to lift any club.

But serious doubts hang over Ricardinho, according to South American sources. Better would have been a top-class striker to end the Riverside goal drought - and neither Emile Heskey nor Mark Viduka took the bait.


Newcastle

Seven players out and only Michael Bridges in on loan - this was the sound of Sir Bobby Robson clearing the decks for a summer spending spree.

Stephen Carr remains his most likely first signing. But others will follow to fill the newly-created gaps in the squad.


Portsmouth

A frantic month, even by the usual transfer standards of Harry Redknapp.

His problems? Lack of cash, time running out and the relegation trapdoor yawning below him.

Are any of his seven signings capable of steering the Pompey ship into less turbulent waters? Ask yourself this: how many other Premiership clubs would have signed them?


Southampton

A club run by a manager in his last few months in charge is never likely to splash the cash.

Until the new man is in place, the names will stay the same.


Tottenham

Michael Brown arrived with Christmas decorations still hanging at White Hart Lane. That was it - until Spurs suddenly went all-out at the last minute.

Remember that Jermain Defoe was deemed more likely to join Man United or Arsenal, and you soon realise why David Pleat looked so pleased at Wednesday's news conference.

Bobby Zamora was a Hoddle signing and considered no great loss. Paul Robinson's likely arrival in summer completes a good month for the Tottenham faithful.


Wolves

It's all about taking a punt when you're down in the mire.

That's why you spend 2m on a striker who has barely played in the last three years and who failed to break into the Newcastle team even when they were facing a striker crisis.

Carl Cort deserved more luck at St James' Park. Whether he alone can lift Wolves from the bottom three remains to be seen.





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