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English Premiership

Arsenal swoop for Monreal, Samba at QPR

MONREAL-GUNNERSLONDON, England, February 1 – Queens Park Rangers broke their transfer record to sign Christopher Samba and Arsenal swooped for Spanish full-back Nacho Monreal as the January transfer window clanged shut in England on Thursday.

QPR are currently four points from safety at the foot of the Premier League and manager Harry Redknapp hopes former Blackburn Rovers centre-back Samba will help to stiffen his side’s fragile defence.

The giant Congolese defender signed on a four-and-a-half-year deal for a reported fee of £12.5 million ($19.7 million, 14.6 million euros) from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.

“I’m delighted to be back in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world to play football,” Samba told the QPR website.

“I’ve been linked with the club for a long time. With Harry here though, he is really passionate and he wants to do something with the club.”

Redknapp said: “Chris is just what we need. He’s a monster. Great in the air, quick, a leader, strong, fantastic in both boxes, hard as nails. He’s a proper centre-half.”

QPR also completed loan moves for Tottenham Hotspur midfielders Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend, while Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin was allowed to leave the club to join Italian side Palermo on loan.

One player unable to join QPR was West Bromwich Albion striker Peter Odemwingie, who was reportedly denied entry to Loftus Road after apparently travelling to the club under his own steam in a bid to force a move through.

Late on Thursday, Arsenal announced a deal reportedly worth £8.3 million for Spain international left-back Monreal from Malaga.

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“We are delighted that Nacho Monreal has agreed to join us,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

“We have been monitoring him for some time now and are really pleased that we’ve been able to agree this move today (Thursday).”

Stoke City made two late moves in the transfer window, signing England international goalkeeper Jack Butland from Birmingham City and United States winger Brek Shea from FC Dallas.

Butland, who was named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad earlier in the day, reportedly cost £3.5 million and will be loaned back to Birmingham until the end of the season.

“I feel very good. I’m glad to get it done, it’s the next step of my career and I’m looking forward to it,” Butland told Sky Sports News.

Sunderland announced the capture of Danny Graham in a £5 million switch from League Cup finalists Swansea City.

The 27-year-old striker, who had lost his place in the Swans’ starting XI to Spanish close-season signing Michu, has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract at the Stadium of Light.

“As soon as I heard about the interest from Sunderland, I didn’t even have to consider any of the other options that were on the table,” Graham told the Sunderland website.

“I was born and brought up in the north-east (of England) so I know first-hand the intense passion that people have for their football in this part of the world — it’s special and there’s nowhere else like it.”

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The Premier League also bade farewell to trouble-prone Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who completed a £19 million move to AC Milan after falling out of favour at champions Manchester City.

Norwich City announced that they had agreed to sign Argentine forward Luciano Becchio from second-tier Leeds United in a part-exchange deal that will see Wales international striker Steve Morison move in the opposite direction.

The move, subject to the completion of the relevant paperwork, will see Becchio arrive at Carrow Road on a three-and-a-half-year contract.

“I cannot wait to play my first game for Norwich,” he told the club website.

“I am really happy about having the chance to play in the Premier League, it is brilliant for me personally and for my career.”

Fulham completed loan moves for AC Milan utility player Urby Emanuelson and PSV Eindhoven right-back Stanislav Manolev, while Austrian Paul Scharner returned to Wigan Athletic on loan from German side Hamburg.

Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes joined German side Hoffenheim on loan until the end of the season and Aston Villa snapped up French midfielder Yacouba Sylla from French Ligue 2 side Clermont.

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