Serie A's big guns rush to beat the transfer deadline

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The transfer window closed with a late rush on the market as clubs throughout Serie A jostled to find the missing ingredient that will make the second half of the season that little more tasty.

Juventus turned to Alessandro Matri, Inter rubbed Rafa Benitez’s nose in it again, bringing in their fourth signing: Yuto Nagatomo, Napoli brought Giuseppe Mascara back home and AC Milan could not resist opening the gates of their country club to Nicola Legrottaglie.

The summer may have belonged to Milan with the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho but the winter has become Massimo Morrati’s playground, despite Silvio Berlusconi’s capture of Antonio Cassano, Mark Van Bommel, Urby Emanuelson and left-back Didac Vilà from Espanyol.

Giampaolo Pazzini was an instant hit for the Nerazzurri at the weekend, and the striker’s arrival takes the pressure of Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito. Another new signing, Houssine Kharja, will ease the problems in midfield where Wesley Sneijder, Dejan Stankovic and Esteban Cambiasso have all been injured at various times this season.

The third new signing, or in fact the first arrival at the turn of January, Andrea Ranocchia, is ensured even more game time with Lucio now out injured for at least a month.

And that seemed to be the end of business for the defending champions until Davide Santon’s limp performance against Palermo persuaded the club’s hierarchy that Yuto Nagatomo was a better option for cover at left-back.

Cesena were immediately informed that the Japan international, fresh from winning the Asian Cup under Alberto Zaccheroni, would be spending the rest of the season on loan in Milan to leave the player who was once hyped as the new Maldini in a relegation dogfight.

It could have been worse – he could have been Sulley Muntari, returning to England and Sunderland, or Nelson Rivas, who is off to Ukraine to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk

Most of the Juventus side perhaps should have been exiled to the footballing equivalent of the salt mines for a dose of hard labour, but in the end the club could only force Amauri into exile at Parma.

Transfer chief Beppe Marotta is finding out the hard way that the Juve name does not carry as much weight as it did under Lucky Luciano Moggi, hence the signings of Pazzini and even Alejandro Dominguez of Valencia never materialised.

Instead, a last-minute search for fire-power produced a frantic call to Cagliari where Alessandro Matri was waiting with his bags packed. Hopefully, the one-time Milan youth player has broad shoulders because he will be expected to carry the attack where goals have been as rare as a cheery crowd at the Olympic stadium in Turin.

An initial outlay of €2.5million with an option to add a further €15 million to make the deal permanent at the end of the season does not seem too much of a gamble on a player who has scored 11 league goals so far this season, which needless to say sits very favourably with what has gone before – Amauri having last found the net in the league back in October 2009.

In fact, Giorgio Chiellini has scored more goals over than period than the Brazilian who apparently had recently taken to hiding behind a mask such was his shame.

Napoli pulled off something of a coup by signing Victor Ruiz from Espanyol. The central defender was reportedly an Inter target and strengthens the weakest area in Walter Mazzarri’s side while Mascara will add cover as the poor-man’s Ezequiel Lavezzi.

So with the Roman clubs without a cent between them and in truth Lazio and AS Roma need to trim their squads rather than add to them, once again it was the Milanese giants that landed the best winter deals.