Soccer

Fulham, Cardiff beef up squads before transfer window closes

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The Canadian Press
1/31/2014 11:25:15 AM
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LONDON -- Fulham brought in Germany midfielder Lewis Holtby and Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou, while Cardiff took winger Wilfried Zaha on loan from Manchester United as struggling English Premier League clubs reinforced their squads on Friday.

The rush of contracts came as the January transfer window was closing late Friday.

The 23-year-old Holtby arrived at Tottenham from Schalke 12 months ago in a 1.25 million pound ($2 million) deal but struggled to establish himself at Spurs. According to Holtby's agent, Marcus Noak, the player was keen on returning to the Bundesliga but his price tag was a dissuasive factor.

"A return to the Bundesliga has been shattered due to circumstances we couldn't control," Noak said. "Fulham has put much effort into Lewis. It is a very well-run club with an excellent manager, Rene Meulensteen. The system and philosophy how Fulham plays fits well with Lewis."

Holtby has joined Fulham on loan for the rest of the season. His signing follows the recent arrivals of Clint Dempsey -- on a two-month loan from the Seattle Sounders -- and William Kvist.

"I'll do what I can to help us beat teams and keep us up and out of the bottom three and ensure that we have a good remainder of the season," Holtby said.

Languishing in the relegation zone, Fulham achieved a real coup with the midfielder's arrival as Adel Taarabt headed to AC Milan following a disappointing spell at Craven Cottage. Fulham also added to its attack with the signing of Mitroglou on a four-and-a-half-year deal from Olympiakos.

The Greece forward is expected to replace Dimitar Berbatov, who has been linked with a move to Monaco and is expected in the principality on Friday for a medical.

Also involved in the relegation fight, Cardiff's new manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer used his United connections to lure Zaha from Old Trafford, where the 21-year-old is judged surplus to requirements.

Zaha helped Crystal Palace secure promotion through the playoffs last year but was relegated to the bench by United.

Zaha is Cardiff's sixth January signing after Solksjaer, a former United player, reinforced his struggling squad with the addition of Fabio, Kenwyne Jones, Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Mats Moller Daehli and Jo Inge Berget.

Cardiff is bottom of the Premier League and Solksjaer is hoping that Zaha's skills will lead his side out of the drop zone. He said Zaha "will bring that little final bit to find pockets of space and produce a bit of magic."

The big teams remained relatively quiet as United confirmed it would not make any more signings before the 2300 GMT deadline after it shattered the club record transfer by paying Chelsea 37.1 million pounds ($61 million) for Spain midfielder Juan Mata last week.

"You can stand your cameras down," United manager David Moyes told a news conference. "I don't think they will be required. We have done our business."

Chelsea announced the signing of Saint-Etienne defender Kurt Zouma on a five-and-a-half-year deal but the 19-year-old central defender will remain on loan at the French club until the end of the season.

Chelsea's north London rivals Arsenal looked for a replacement for the injured Aaron Ramsey and were expected to sign veteran midfielder Kim Kallstrom on loan for the remainder of the season.

English topflight clubs had already spent 10 million pounds ($16.5 million) more than this time last year. According to football finance experts Deloitte, Premier League clubs had spent 95 million pounds ($156 million) on acquiring new players ahead of the deadline day, with gross spending at this point last season reaching 85 million pounds ($140 million).

On the final day of the window in January 2013, they spent 35 million pounds ($57.5 million). Regardless of the amount of activity on Friday, Deloitte says Premier League clubs have already set a record for transfer spending this season, which broke the "700 million pounds ($1.15 billion) mark for the first time, with spending currently at 725 million pounds ($1.19 billion)."

Wilfried Zaha (Photo: Getty Images)

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(Photo: Getty Images)
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