European transfers: Real Madrid spend on youth

February 1, 2007

LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - David Beckham's move from Real Madrid to LA Galaxy in a package that could be worth up to $250 million to the player dwarfed every other transfer in the January window which closed on Wednesday.

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Although Beckham, 32 in May, could remain at Real until the end of his contract in June, the sporting, cultural and financial aspects of the deal made headlines worldwide.

Other significant moves included Brazilian striker Ronaldo, also leaving Real, for AC Milan and Swedish scoring machine Henrik Larsson arriving on loan at Manchester United.

The moves of Beckham and Ronaldo ended the 'galacticos' era at the Madrid club during which Real bought some of the world's most famous players -- but won nothing significant with them.

Real will not get a transfer fee for Beckham and only received 7.5 million euros ($9.7 million) for Ronaldo, less than half the sum Milan offered them last August.

As usual, Real were also the biggest spenders as they splashed out some 45 million euros on rejuvenating their squad with three South American youngsters - Argentine duo Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuain and Brazilian fullback Marcelo.

Of the other top Primera Liga sides, Sevilla look to have made another astute purchase in Russia's Alexander Kerzhakov, while Atletico Madrid have strengthened their already miserly defence with Brazilian centre back Fabiano Eller.

Ronaldo's return to Italy overshadowed all the other transfers in Serie A.

The arrival of the three-times FIFA World Player of the Year, along with Italy right back Massimo Oddo from Lazio, would "ensure Milan remain among the elite in Europe" said the club's vice-president Adriano Galliani.

Parma's battle against relegation was boosted when they picked up Italy under-21 striker Giuseppe Rossi on loan from Manchester United. The 19-year-old marked his debut by scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Torino.

While league leaders Inter made no moves in the market, second-placed Roma bolstered their squad with Sweden midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson and Valencia striker Francesco Tavano.

Siena also strengthened their attack by signing Massimo Maccarone from Middlesbrough until June 2010.

England's Premier League is awash with cash but the biggest move involved the fairly modest sum of 9.65 million pounds ($18.86 million) Aston Villa paid Watford for 21-year-old winger Ashley Young.

Apart from Matthew Upson's six million pound move to West Ham United from Birmingham City, most of the other transfers in England were between one and three million pounds, although a signing who cost nothing could be the most astute.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson secured a loan deal for prolific striker Henrik Larsson from Helsingborg last November and the 35-year-old Swede marked his arrival with a goal on his debut against Aston Villa in the FA Cup.

Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano was cleared by FIFA to move from West Ham to Liverpool, but the Premier League were yet to approve the deal, saying a decision would be made after they studied the registration documents sent to them before the transfer window closed.

Soccer's world governing body earlier waived, on a technicality, their own rule which states a player cannot feature for more than two clubs between June 30 in one year and July 1 the following year.

Liverpool did definitely sign Deportivo La Coruna defender Alvaro Arbeloa and Malaga midfielder Francisco Manuel Duran.

Werder Bremen were the biggest movers in the Bundesliga, bringing in Swedish striker Markus Rosenberg from Ajax Amsterdam for an estimated four million euros.

Werder, in turn, sold Egyptian striker Mohamed Zidan to struggling Mainz for 2.5 million euros, while signing defender Peter Niemeyer from Twente Enschede for 500,000 euros.

Bayern Munich looked in urgent need of reinforcements but contented themselves with a deal to sign Jan Schlaudraff from Alemannia Aachen at the end of the season.

Struggling Hamburg moved for experienced goalkeeper Frank Rost from Schalke 04, while VfL Wolfsburg took a 2.75 million euros gamble on Brazilian Marcelinho from Trabzonspor.

Title hopefuls VfB Stuttgart, delighted with the form of Mario Gomez, were happy to let Denmark striker Jon Dahl Tomasson join Villarreal on loan after a disappointing 18 months.

The major deal in France was Aston Villa's Czech Republic forward Milan Baros joining Olympique Lyon in exchange for Norway striker John Carew, while former France keeper Fabien Barthez came out of retirement to help Nantes avoid relegation.

Lyon have also hired Brazilian defensive midfielder Fabio Dos Santos from Cruzeiro on a 3-1/2-year deal for 4.2 million euros to make up for the absence of injured France international Alou Diarra who is not expected to return before mid-March.

River Plate playmaker Marcello Gallardo has joined Paris St Germain on a 2-1/2-year deal while Olympique Marseille have strengthened their defence with Rangers's Julien Rodriguez.