There is a well-known American TV drama that famously spreads 24 hours of real-time action over each series. The opposite is true in the world of football, where what can often seem like an entire season’s worth of events are crammed into the final day of August every year. This year was no exception, and takes a look back at the final few hours of a transfer window that once again went all the way down to the wire.

Last-minute transfer deals are sometimes triggered by previous events, as Arsenal have shown this season. The Gunners have endured six trophyless campaigns, lost two key players in Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas and fell to an 8-2 defeat against Manchester United last weekend – all of which may explain the raft of arrivals at the Emirates Stadium on 31 August. Midfielders Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta joined from Chelsea and Everton respectively (the former on loan), along with Korea Republic forward Park Chu-Young, who signed from Monaco. German centre-back Per Mertesacker made the switch from Werder Bremen and Brazilian full-back Andre Santos arrived from Fenerbahce, and the experienced pair will be looking to help steady the ship after Arsenal’s decidedly shaky start to the season.

With space in the Arsenal changing room at a premium, Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner was one of the players who inevitably had to make way, joining Sunderland on loan. It was a similar story for Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles, who joined Chelsea after a single season at Liverpool. For their part, the Merseyside club re-signed Welsh forward Craig Bellamy from Manchester City, while the Citizens also allowed winger Shaun Wright-Phillips to leave for Queens Park Rangers. In terms of arrivals, City took something of a gamble by recruiting Owen Hargreaves, who was a free agent after an injury-plagued spell with cross-town rivals Manchester United.

It was a hectic transfer deadline day for Tottenham Hotspur, who, as well as signing current Football Writers’ Association player of the year Scott Parker from West Ham, also parted company with several players. Jermaine Jenas and Alan Hutton both left the north London club for Aston Villa, while Peter Crouch and Honduran international Wilson Palacios packed their bags and joined Stoke City. Bolton Wanderers signed French duo David Ngog and Gael Kakuta from Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, while Fulham focused on the overseas market by signing Czech defender Zdenek Grygera from Juventus, Portuguese forward Orlando Sa from CD Nacional, and Costa Rican attacker Bryan Ruiz from Twente. Everton employed a similar strategy, signing Argentinian forward Denis Stracqualursi and Dutch player Royston Drenthe on loan deals from Tigres and Real Madrid respectively.

Real Madrid have also loaned Pedro Leon to Getafe – the side from which the midfielder joined the Merengue – after he was largely overlooked by Jose Mourinho last season. Nigerian forward Ikechukwu Uche sealed a loan switch to Granada immediately after joining Villarreal from Zaragoza, while Atletico Madrid also concluded a loan deal for Brazilian midfielder Diego, who had disappointing times at Juventus and Wolfsburg. Zaragoza suffered a crushing 6-0 home defeat by Real Madrid in their season opener, but they will be hoping for an improvement after luring Portuguese forward Helder Postiga from Sporting, and tying up a loan deal for Espanyol’s Luis Garcia. Villarreal also endured a forgettable start to the season with a 5-0 thumping at the hands of Barcelona, and they have subsequently strengthened their midfield with the signing of Jonathan De Guzman. The Canadian enjoyed an impressive spell at Mallorca, but he will be replaced by Argentinian midfielder Fernando Tissone, who joins the Balearic outfit from Sampdoria.

It was certainly a busy last few hours of the transfer window for Italy’s major clubs. Inter Milan lost forwards Samuel Eto’o and Goran Pandev to Anzhi and Napoli respectively, but their departures were offset by the signing of Uruguayan marksman and 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ Best Player Diego Forlan from Atletico Madrid, and the arrival of Argentinian forward Mauro Zarate, brilliant and inconsistent in equal measure during his time at Lazio. Another Argentinian, Fernando Gago, signed for Roma after spending most of last season on the bench at Real Madrid, and he is joined in the Italian capital by Bosnia Herzegovina international midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who signed from Lyon.

AC Milan appeared to have completed their summer recruitment drive, but they delved back into the transfer market late in the day in search of a bargain. The Rossoneri duly signed Antonio Nocerino from Palermo, and they will be hoping the Italian international proves to be a good piece of business. Nocerino fills the gap left by 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Massimo Oddo, who joins Lecce. Paraguay’s Edgar Barreto joined Palermo after two seasons with Atalanta, while Algerian forward Abdelkader Ghezzal completed a switch from Bari to Cesena. Elsewhere, Juventus signed Dutch winger and 2010 FIFA World Cup runner-up Eljero Elia from Hamburg.

The closing stages of the transfer window were somewhat calmer in Germany, where the country’s top clubs are already over a month into the new Bundesliga season. There was some activity, however, with Schalke signing Finnish striker Teemu Pukki – the German side’s tormenter in their recent UEFA Europa League qualifier against HJK. Swiss forward Mario Gavranovic went in the other direction, leaving the Gelsenkirchen outfit to join Mainz. Croatian player Ivo Ilicevic moved from Kaiserslauten to Hamburg, while Alexander Hleb joined Wolfsburg on loan. The Belarusian international has struggled to make a mark at Barcelona, and most recently endured a disappointing loan spell at Birmingham City.

English midfielder Joe Cole will also be hoping to get his career back on track on loan at French champions Lille, after a below-par first season with Liverpool. Cole’s switch was the stand-out deal on deadline day in France, but Lorient also strengthened their squad by signing three new forwards. Swiss international Innocent Emeghara arrived from Grasshoppers, and is joined at the Brittany-based club by French youngster Gilles Sunu and Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell. The pair arrive from Arsenal, having impressed at the recent FIFA U-20 World Cup 2011. Finally, Les Bluets’ captain Gueida Fofana, who also shone at the tournament, signed for Lyon from French second-division outfit Le Havre.