LONDON – Spanish forward Fernando Torres joined Chelsea for a British-record fee said to be 50 million pounds ($79.5 million) on Monday as big-spending English clubs concluded a record-breaking spending spree during the January transfer window.
More than 215 million pounds ($345 million) was spent in the month by Premier League teams, breaking the previous high of 181 million pounds ($290 million) in 2009.
Torres' move from Liverpool is the third-most expensive transfer in the soccer history, bettered only by Real Madrid's purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for 80 million pounds ($131 million) and Kaka from AC Milan for 65 million euros ($92 million). It is similar to the fee received by Inter Milan when the Italian team sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona the same year, a deal that sent Samuel Eto'o to Inter.
Liverpool replaced Torres by breaking the club's transfer record twice in the space of a few hours to acquire Andy Carroll from Newcastle and Luis Suarez from Ajax — for a combined fee of 58 million pounds ($93 million).
Chelsea was also ready to spend a reported 25 million pounds ($40 million) to sign Brazilian defender David Luiz from Portuguese side Benfica, bringing the total figure of those four transfers alone to 133 million pounds ($213 million).
Previous transfers this month have seen Edin Dzeko join Manchester City from Wolfsburg for about 27 million pounds ($42 million) and Darren Bent move to Aston Villa from Sunderland for a fee that could rise to 24 million pounds ($38.5 million).
Among Americans, midfielder Michael Bradley was loaned to England's Aston Villa from Germany's Borussia Moenchengladbach until the end of the season; American forward Robbie Findley received international clearance to sign with second-tier English club Nottingham Forest; and forward Jozy Altidore was loaned from Spain's Villarreal to defending Turkish champion Bursaspor for the rest of the season.
"Michael is a very hard-working midfielder who can score goals and is versatile," Villa manager Gerard Houllier said. "I saw him play four times at the World Cup in South Africa. I saw him once on TV, but four times at the games for the national team, so in terms of scouting you cannot say the work has not been done."
Chelsea's g outlay of about 75 million pounds ($120 million) came on the day the club announced losses of 70.9 million pounds ($113.7 million) last season, despite winning the Premier League and the FA Cup.
Such was the frenzied activity at Liverpool, comfortably the busiest mover on deadline day, that the club even had to temporarily change the layout of its webpage to safeguard its stability. The Reds had unprecedented levels of traffic on the site, with 1.1 million fans having visited it by evening, generating a record 8.5 million page impressions.
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 pounds (then $76 million) in 2009.
Liverpool signed Carroll for a reported 35 million pounds ($56 million) after the forward had a transfer request accepted by Newcastle. The Reds had earlier finalized the signing of Suarez for 26.5 million pounds ($36 million).
Torres joins a Chelsea roster that already includes forwards Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka. Torres could make his Blues debut Sunday at Stamford Bridge against Liverpool
"I am very happy with my transfer to Chelsea and I am looking forward very much to helping my new team-mates this season and for many years to come," said Torres, a World Cup winner last year and the scorer of the winning goal in the European Championship final against Germany in 2008.
In other Premier League deals, Aston Villa loaned midfielder Stephen Ireland to Newcastle; Blackburn signed playmaker Mauro Formica from Newell's Old Boys and striker Ruben Rochina from Barcelona; and struggling Birmingham brought in striker Obafemi Martins on a six-month loan from Rubin Kazan.
Brazilian striker Andre joined Bordeaux from Dynamo Kiev on a six-month loan deal, and Villarreal loaned winger Jefferson Montero.
AC Milan acquired Nicola Legrottaglie from Juventus, signing the defender until the end of this season. Juventus signed striker Alessandro Matri on loan from Cagliari.