Premier League clubs spend, Coutinho deal trumps all

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Philippe Coutinho made the switch from Liverpool to Barcelona. AFP

LONDON (Reuters) – The January transfer window slammed shut on Wednesday after a frantic month of activity during which Barcelona completed the biggest deal by signing Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool and Premier League clubs spent heavily across the board.

The Premier League clubs’ purchasing power was evident again in January but unusually the big money went on defenders.

Early in the window, Liverpool made Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender by splashing out a world record $100 million to sign the Dutchman from Southampton.

Liverpool badly needed more quality in their back line but the improvement in the squad was undermined by the departure of Brazil attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for a transfer fee reported at about $192 million.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has also not been afraid to spend big on defenders – his signing of French centre-half Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for a club record fee of $77 million means they have spent more than $262 million on defenders and a keeper since the end of last season.

City lost out on some attacking talent, though, with Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, long linked with a move to The Etihad, opting instead to join rivals Manchester United with Armenia midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving the opposite way.

City also failed to agree a deal with Leicester City for midfielder Riyad Mahrez.

While Arsenal fans were disappointed to see Sanchez go, the London club splashed out a club-record transfer fee to sign Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a reported $89 million from Borussia Dortmund.

They also got a pleasant surprise when Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil signed a new contract until 2021, though their France striker Olivier Giroud was shipped out to rivals Chelsea.

Tottenham Hotspur were also active on deadline day, signing Brazilian winger Lucas Moura from Paris St Germain.

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