As any self-respecting football fan will tell you, there is so much that can happen in the last few minutes of a game that you should never leave your seat until the final whistle sounds. The same is true of the transfer window, the closing stages of which generally throw up plenty of surprises. The 2013 edition proved no exception, as reveals in its round-up of Monday's last-minute moves.

Summer sagas
The most spectacular deal of the lot was a long time in the making. Following months of negotiations and twists and turns, Gareth Bale finally made the move to Real Madrid after spending six years at Tottenham Hotspur, the last three of which saw him become one of the hottest properties in world football. “It’s an absolute dream to be here,” said the Welshman after his presentation in the Merengue shirt. “I’ll be giving 100 percent every time I’m on the pitch, doing my best and trying to help the team win titles. I want to play in the Champions League and bring the tenth European Cup to the club.”

FIFA U-20 World Cup winner Florian Thauvin’s late move from Lille to Olympique Marseille was every bit as drawn out as Bale’s, though it made slightly less of a splash in the media. The former Bastia forward signed for Lille back in January, but played out the remainder of the season in Corsica. In the meantime L’OM pressed for his signature, with Thauvin now heading to the Stade Velodrome without ever having played for Les Dogues.

More big deals
While the Premier League and Spurs have said goodbye to a major left-footed talent in Bale, North London rivals Arsenal have acquired the services of one in German midfielder Mesut Ozil, whom the Gunners’ have lured from Real Madrid for a club-record fee. Domestic rivals Manchester United also had a hectic day, finally convincing Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini to leave Everton and team up with his former coach David Moyes.

Homecomings and reunions
Argentinian centre-half Martin Demichelis may well have had a similar motivation for leaving  Malaga for Manchester City, now coached by Manuel Pellegrini, his old boss back in Spain. And while Brazilian star Kaka might not be acquainted with Massimiliano Allegri, he is returning to familiar surroundings at AC Milan, where he worked wonders over the course of six seasons before joining Real Madrid in 2009. “I’m coming home,” said the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner on signing for the Italian giants. “It’s a special year because the World Cup is coming up in Brazil, and I think the club might give me the opportunity to take part in it.”

Destination Brazil 2014
Liverpool have picked up three other players anxious to be at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Frozen out at Paris Saint-Germain, French defender Mamadou Sakho has pitched up at Anfield along with Portugal’s Tiago Ilori, formerly with Sporting CP, and Nigerian striker Victor Moses, who has been occupying the Chelsea bench since the start of the season. Over in the blue half of the city, meanwhile, Everton made up for Fellaini’s departure by bringing in three internationals all in with a chance of appearing at next year’s world finals, with England midfielder Gareth Barry, Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku and Republic of Ireland midfielder James McCarthy checking in at Goodison Park from Manchester City, Chelsea and Wigan respectively.

Italy internationals Fabio Borini and Andrea Dossena hope to have increased their chances of a trip to Brazil by making respective moves from Liverpool and Napoli to Sunderland, where they will come under the orders of compatriot Paolo Di Canio. Meanwhile, Swiss wide man Tranquillo Barnetta is dreaming of better days at Eintracht Frankfurt after a tough season at Schalke 04.

Ones for the future
Thauvin is not the only newly crowned U-20 world champion who will be gracing Marseille this season, with Mario Lemina moving south from Lorient. The FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 also saw the emergence of Colombian striker Jhon Cordoba, who has joined Espanyol, while Russia’s Denis Cheryshev, another promising youngster, has left Real Madrid’s reserve outfit Castilla for the big time with Sevilla. Having had a taste of the high life himself with Botafogo, teenage Brazilian striker Vitinho will now continue his education with Russian side CSKA Moscow.

Not forgetting …
Among the most notable of the rest of the window’s many last-gasp transactions were Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic’s switch from Werder Bremen to Stoke City. Also on the move are Zambian striker Emmanuel Mayuka, who has left Southampton for Sochaux, with German defender Serdar Tasci arriving at Spartak Moscow from Stuttgart, Uruguayan midfielder Walter Gargano moving from Napoli to Parma, Algerian midfielder Ryad Boudebouz joining Bastia from Sochaux and Argentinian forward Juan Iturbe signing for Hellas Verona from Porto.

Have your say
Which club sealed the best late deal of all?