By Mike Collett
LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Arsene Wenger and other managers may hate it but English Premier League clubs still spent more than ever in a generally sluggish January transfer window which ends on Friday.
There were few, if any, deals of note across Europe not involving English clubs while Real Madrid and Barcelona, the richest clubs in the world, did not even spend their loose change on new players.
The main action involving German, French and Italian clubs also largely centred around England's financial power even if managers in England like Wenger are severely critical of the January window.
Wenger himself did not spend a penny on bringing anyone in to injury-hit Arsenal even though a 37 million-pound ($61 million) deal for Schalke 04's Julian Draxler seemed possible earlier in the week.
He has also made his feelings known on a regular basis on how he finds the window disruptive, saying it distorts the competition.
"It is a big distraction, I will be glad when its all over," he said on Friday.
"I can understand people are interested about what's happening and who's going where but that's not real football."
The biggest move of the month was Juan Mata's transfer from Chelsea to Manchester United who paid a club record fee of 37.1 million pounds for the Spanish playmaker.
English clubs will have spent in the region of a record 725 million pounds over the summer and winter windows for the 2013-14 season by the time the clock kicks around to the 2300 GMT deadline on Friday.
Most of that money is spent in the summer - with around 95 million pounds changing hands in England this month, the total before the final day's trading started.
An analysis by London-based financial analysts Deloitte showed that Premier League clubs have spent slightly higher than this time last year.
Dan Jones of Deloitte said: "As we enter the final day of this year's transfer window, Premier League clubs' gross spending currently stands at 95 million pounds.
"This is a broadly similar picture to last year, where gross spending at this point totalled 85 million pounds.
"However, regardless of the amount of activity today, we have already seen the 2013-14 season set a record for Premier League transfer spending.
"This season the combined transfer spend of Premier League clubs has passed the 700 million pounds mark for the first time, with spending currently at around 725 million pounds."
Chelsea were among the most active clubs, selling Kevin de Bruyne as well as Mata and allowing Michael Essien to leave for AC Milan, and buying Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and Kurt Zouma for a combined fee of around 55 million pounds as coach Jose Mourinho seeks to mark his return to the club by winning the title.
In contrast to the high-spending English, German clubs kept a low profile with the exception of VfL Wolfsburg, who paid a reported 17 million euros for De Bruyne.
The Wolves, eager to return to the top after winning the title in 2009 but spending most of the time since avoiding relegation, brought in seven new players including Ibrahim Sissoko from St Etienne and three youth team players.
Champions League clubs Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund largely stayed clear of the market, although the latter made a late dash to replace injured midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski with Serbian Milos Jojic.
Bayer Leverkusen, who with Schalke 04 complete a quartet of German teams still in the Champions League, snapped up Valencia's Andres Guardado along with South Korean Seung-Woo Ryu.
Barcelona and Real Madrid were inactive, leaving their cash-strapped La Liga rivals to make minor squad adjustments in an extremely quiet market.
La Liga clubs, many of whom are saddled with crippling debts, spent a mere 3.5 million euros ($4.75 million), according to Barcelona-based agency Prime Time Sport, down from 12 million euros last year.
The market was extremely calm in France, with Paris St Germain predictably attracting the biggest name in Yohan Cabaye.
The France midfielder joined from Newcastle United on a three-and-a-half year deal for a reported fee of up to 25 million euros ($33.9 million).
Other notable transactions include Ghana international forward Jordan Ayew being loaned to Sochaux by Olympique Marseille and former France striker Djibril Cisse joining Bastia from Kuban Krasnodar as a free agent.
Matters were not much livelier in Italy with Brazilian midfielder Hernanes joining Inter Milan from Lazio, Essien's arrival at Milan and Manchester United midfielder Anderson moving to Fiorentina on loan among the more notable deals.
($1 = 0.7373 euros)
(Editing by Ed Osmond)