Fri, Jan 02, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Cash in short supply as transfer window opens


The global economic turmoil may be forcing shops to slash prices, but European soccer clubs weren’t expecting similar winter bargains when the January transfer window opened yesterday.

Even West Ham, with its owner facing bankruptcy due to the collapse of Iceland’s banking sector, says it won’t be selling its best talent on the cheap.

Likewise, even though Manchester City is now bankrolled by wealthy Arab investors, manager Mark Hughes has said he won’t be embarking on an unchecked spending spree — despite being linked with many of the world’s best players from Kaka to Lionel Messi.

City broke the British transfer record to bring in US$50 million Brazil striker Robinho on the last day of the September transfer window as Abu Dhabi United were finalizing its purchase of the underachieving club.

“We’re aware of this assumption about the level of finance that we’ll throw at the project in January, but we still have realistic market values,” Hughes said on Wednesday. “There is also an assumption that we will stimulate the market, that the money sloshing around will be from the deals that we have started, but we have to make sure we protect the club as well.”

Buying from the continent will cost more than 12 months ago with the pound losing 30 percent of its value against the euro.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez will likely have to sell players if he wants to add another striker to his league-leading squad, and winger Jermaine Pennant has been linked with Real Madrid.

Luiz Felipe Scolari believes he needs another striker to close the three-point gap on Liverpool, but chief executive Peter Kenyon has repeatedly ruled out any purchases.

Defending champion Manchester United aren’t going to be very active with Zoran Tosic likely to be the only arrival _ if contract negotiations can be resolved.

With its title hopes fading, Arsenal’s priority is finding a midfielder to ensure it clinches one of the four Champions League spots since inspirational midfielder Cesc Fabregas is likely to miss the rest of the season through injury.

The decline of the pound against the euro could open the way for Premier League players to move to the continent.

But most reinforcements for Italy’s top teams are expected not to come from the transfer market but from the return of injured players from Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to AC Milan forward Marco Borriello.

However, Inter are interested in signing Genoa’s Diego Milito, one of Serie A’s top scorers with 12 goals, or, as an alternative, Sevilla strikers Frederic Kanoute or Luis Fabiano.

Juventus are seeking a defender to replace injured players and are focusing on Fiorentina’s Manuel Da Costa, while Liverpool defender Daniel Agger is said to be on Milan’s radar.

In Germany, Bayern Munich has said it has no plans for any further transfer activity after signing Landon Donovan on a loan deal through March 15.

Striker Lucas Podolski, frustrated at spending too much time on the bench, had expressed interest in seeking another club, but Bayern has said it does not plan to release him this winter.

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