Soccer

Newcastle breaks bank as transfer window closes

AFP-JIJI

The January transfer window shut in Europe’s leading leagues at 11 p.m. GMT on Thursday, with Newcastle United’s signing of Miguel Almiron the biggest deal to go through on a deadline day almost devoid of activity at the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

Paraguay midfielder Miguel Almiron joined Newcastle from MLS Cup winner Atlanta United for a reported £20 million ($26 million), a fee that breaks the club record.

“The league is very competitive, this is a historic club, and (manager) Rafa Benitez himself were the main reasons why I am here now,” said the 24-year-old on joining the struggling side.

Meanwhile, of the Premier League’s Big Six, the only one to dip into the market on Thursday was Arsenal, which took midfielder Denis Suarez on loan from Barcelona.

Arsenal’s rivals kept their checkbooks closed as the window shut, although Chelsea had already signed Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus after buying American winger Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for £58 million, loaning him back for the rest of the season.

“During one month I said we are not going to do anything in the transfer market,” insisted Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola earlier in the week.

Apart from Almiron, Newcastle also took Monaco fullback Antonio Barreca on loan. Elsewhere, Wolves completed an £18 million deal to sign Jonny Castro permanently from Atletico Madrid.

Meanwhile, Leicester City signed Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans on loan from Monaco, with Adrien Silva going the other way.

While the window was relatively quiet in England, some of Europe’s biggest names made moves, mostly well before deadline day, with Barcelona leading the way.

The Spanish champion agreed to pay Ajax €75 million — plus 11 million in bonuses — to take 21-year-old midfielder Frenkie de Jong for next season.

Barcelona also signed Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan from Sassuolo as a back-up in attack, following the loan signing of Valencia defender Jeison Murillo. Promising French center back Jean-Clair Todibo signed from Toulouse.

Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid took former Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata on loan from Chelsea, while Real brought in young midfielder Brahim Diaz from Manchester City for €17 million.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain strengthened in midfield with the signing of Argentina’s Leandro Paredes from Zenit Saint Petersburg for a reported €47 million, but that was its only signing.

Marseille signed Mario Balotelli from Nice, and struggling Monaco made eight signings, headed by Cesc Fabregas from Chelsea.

In Germany, Bayern Munich signed Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies from Vancouver Whitecaps. The Bavarians also completed a deal to take France defender Benjamin Pavard from Stuttgart from July 1 for a reported €35 million.

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig continued the trend of British teenagers moving to the Bundesliga, signing Arsenal youngster Emile Smith-Rowe on loan.

In Italy, Juventus allowed Mehdi Benatia to leave for Qatar and replaced him with the Uruguayan Martin Caceres, but Milan has splashed most cash.

The seven-time European champion cut short Higuain’s loan from Juventus and replaced him with Genoa’s Polish hotshot Krzysztof Piatek for a reported 35 million.