LONDON (AP) — Arsenal moved late to strengthen its fragile defense on an otherwise quiet transfer deadline day for the Premier League's top teams, with the clubs battling against relegation proving to be the most active on Thursday.

Spain left back Nacho Monreal joined Arsenal from Malaga for a reported fee of 8.3 million pounds ($13.6 million) in the final moments of the January window.

"He is a technically gifted player, a good crosser in the final third and strong in the air," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "Monreal will add quality to our squad."

Last-place Queens Park Rangers was the biggest mover, signing defender Christopher Samba from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala for a reported club-record fee of 12 million pounds ($19 million) and Tottenham midfielders Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend on loan.

"Chris is just what we need," QPR manager Redknapp said of Samba, who used to play in the Premier League with Blackburn. "He's a monster ... This is an unbelievable signing."

However, Redknapp failed in his bid to recruit a striker, with Peter Crouch not made available by Stoke and Peter Odemwingie denied a move to QPR by West Bromwich Albion.

In bizarre scenes, Nigeria striker Odemwingie drove to London from central England in an attempt force a move, only for West Brom to release a statement saying he had been denied permission to talk to QPR. In the end, Odemwingie was barred from even entering the Loftus Road ground.

Avoiding the drop to the second-tier League Championship is more important than ever this season, with topflight teams set to be boosted by increased revenues over the next three years after the Premier League secured record TV rights of 3.018 billion pounds ($4.69 billion).

With that in mind, Norwich bought Argentine striker Luciano Becchio from Leeds, third-bottom Wigan brought in Austria defender Paul Scharner on loan from Hamburg, while Fulham took Netherlands midfielder Urby Emanuelson from AC Milan and Bulgaria right back Stanislav Manolev from PSV Eindhoven on loan.

Aston Villa, which dropped into the relegation zone this week, signed unheralded midfielder Yacouba Sylla from French club Clermont Foot.

It was a slow deadline day compared to previous years in England, with the leading clubs reining in their last-ditch spending having already shaped their squads for the final few months of the season.

Manchester City, which signed five players on the last day of the August transfer window, completed the €20 million ($27 million) sale of Italy striker Mario Balotelli to AC Milan and Tottenham sent reserve goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes on loan to German side Hoffenheim.

Elsewhere, mid-table Sunderland signed striker Danny Graham for 5 million pounds ($7.9 million) and Newcastle made Kevin Mbabu the club's sixth January acquisition by signing the defender from Swiss team Servette.

West Ham sent former France midfielder Alou Diarra on loan to Rennes in his native country and Stoke signed Brek Shea from Major League Soccer's FC Dallas for 2.5 million pounds ($4 million) and England backup goalkeeper Jack Butland for a reported fee of 3.5 million pounds ($5.5 million) from Birmingham.

 

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