Fernando Torres joined Chelsea from Liverpool for a reported ￡50 million (US$79.5 million) on Monday, a British record transfer fee on the final day of the biggest spending January transfer window for English clubs.
More than ￡215 million was spent this month by Premier League teams, smashing the previous biggest outlay of ￡181 million in 2009, despite the UK being currently in the midst of a severe economic downturn.
Liverpool replaced Torres by breaking the club’s transfer record twice in the space of a few hours to bring in Andy Carroll from Newcastle and Luis Suarez from Ajax — for a combined fee of ￡58 million.
“I am very happy with my transfer to Chelsea, and I am looking forward very much to helping my new teammates this season and for many years to come,” said Torres, a World Cup winner with Spain last year and the scorer of the only goal in the European Championship final against Germany in 2008.
Chelsea also spent a reported ￡25 million pounds to sign Brazil defender David Luiz from Portuguese side Benfica, bringing the total figure of those four transfers alone to ￡133 million.
This month’s outlay easily eclipsed the ￡30 million spent by English clubs in last year’s January window. The rest of Europe generally settled for loan signings on Monday.
Chelsea’s amazing outlay of about ￡75 million came on the day the club announced losses of ￡70.9 million last season, despite winning the Premier League and the FA Cup.
Torres’ move from Liverpool is the third-most expensive transfer in the history of world soccer, bettered only by Real Madrid’s purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in 2009. It is similar to the fee reportedly paid to Inter by Barcelona the same year for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Samuel Eto’o joining the Italian club as part of that deal.
Such was the frenzied activity at Liverpool, comfortably the busiest mover on deadline day, that the club even had to temporarily change the page layout of its Web site to safeguard its stability.
Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez was widely recognized as being the previous most expensive transfer within British soccer after moving from Manchester United for about ￡47 million in 2009.
Liverpool first broke the -British-record fee by signing Carroll for a reported ￡35 million after the striker had a transfer request accepted by Newcastle. The Reds had earlier wrapped up the signing of Suarez for ￡23 million.
Last week, the Reds turned down Torres’ request to leave the team he joined for what was then a then club-record ￡20.3 million from Atletico Madrid in 2007.
He now joins Chelsea’s star-studded attacking lineup that includes Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba and former France forward Nicolas Anelka.
After reining in his spending over the past couple of years, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich showed his club can still be a big mover in the transfer market by signing Luiz to strengthen the team’s defensive options.
In other Premier League deals, US midfielder Michael Bradley became Aston Villa’s fourth signing of the transfer window — after Darren Bent, Jean Makoun and on-loan Kyle Walker — by joining the club on loan until the end of the season from Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Villa also sent Irish midfielder Stephen Ireland out on loan to Newcastle.
Blackburn signed Argentine playmaker Mauro Formica from Newell’s Old Boys and Spanish striker Ruben Rochina from Barcelona on three-and-a-half-year deals, while struggling Birmingham brought in Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins on a six-month loan deal from Rubin Kazan.