Business of football: Premier Leagues summer spending highest in Europe

Ben Godfrey, Thomas Partey, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Edinson Cavani
Ben Godfrey, Thomas Partey, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Edinson Cavani were four of 12 deadline-day movers

Premier League summer spending was only slightly down from recent years but it was much higher than Europe’s other top leagues, as the transfer window closed, premier League clubs spent £1.218bn, £158m down on last year’s £1.376bn, say investment company Carteret Analytics. There were 12 deadline-day Premier League signings on Monday, the fewest total in recent years. Arsenal signed Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey for £45.3m in the biggest deal of the day.

The deadline was later than usual, on 6 October, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the season starting later. The previous two Premier League windows had closed before the more traditional start to the season in August. Total expenditure on player acquisitions is significantly down across all the top five European leagues against the five year average ranging from 7% in the Premier League to 46% in La Liga, said London-based investment company Carteret Analytics. It is a fair assumption that Covid-19 has caused this significant contraction in the player transfer market in this window. Everton brought in Norwich defender Ben Godfrey for £25m in the second most lucrative transfer of the day.

Manchester United recruited Porto left-back Alex Telles for £13.6m, former Paris St-Germain striker Edinson Cavani on a free transfer and teenage wingers Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri for a combined £28m, however they did not sign long-term target Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. Leeds bought Rennes winger Raphinha for an initial £17m, Everton signed Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen on loan and loaned winger Theo Walcott to Southampton.

Fulham landed Manchester City defender Tosin Adarabioyo on a three-year deal, while Chelsea winger Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Lyon defender Joachim Andersen joined the Cottagers on loan. Arsenal midfielders Lucas Torreira (Atletico Madrid) and Matteo Guendouzi (Hertha Berlin) and Manchester United defender Chris Smalling (Roma) were among the players to leave the Premier League. In Scotland, Celtic signed AC Milan defender Diego Laxalt and Rangers signed Amiens midfielder Bongani Zungu, both on loan deals. Championship club QPR signed former Nottingham Forest winger Albert Adomah and Benfica forward Chris Willock.

Premier League spending was more than three times as high as in La Liga, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 and double that in Serie A, said Carteret. The group advises three Premier League clubs, and another 12 leading sides from around Europe and the rest of the world, on potential new signings and transfer finances. Notably Premier League clubs spent £820.2m more on bringing players to the division than they recouped for selling players to other leagues – higher than the five-year average. By contrast La Liga (£58.6m) and Bundesliga (£8.9m) received more transfer fees than they spent this summer. For the past two seasons the Premier League transfer deadline was before the season started but this season clubs voted to revert back to 31 August. However, the deadline across Europe was moved again because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The transfer deadline passed across Europe on Monday, 5 October – with a 23:00 BST deadline in England and at 00:00 in Scotland. A domestic-only window in England will continue to run until 17:00 BST on 16 October. Premier League teams can still buy EFL players until then, but cannot sign anyone from another Premier League club, however it will be too late to register any of those players for European competition.

Six clubs broke their transfer records in this window:

  • Ruben Dias [Benfica – Manchester City] £65m
  • Fabio Silva [Porto – Wolves] £35.6m
  • Ollie Watkins [Brentford – Aston Villa] £28m
  • Rodrigo [Valencia – Leeds] £26m
  • Rhian Brewster [Liverpool – Sheffield United] £23.5m
  • Grady Diangana [West Ham – West Brom] £18m

Manchester City’s capture of Dias and Chelsea’s £71m signing of Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz were the only Premier League transfers of £50m or more this summer.

By contrast last summer 11 Premier League clubs broke their transfer records (with Sheffield United breaking theirs four times) and there were six £50m+ signings. Chelsea were the big spenders this summer, shelling out £222m on players including Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy, according to Carteret. Manchester City (£141m) and Barcelona (£112m) were the only other major European sides to spend more than £100m.

Last season at least 10 teams spent more than £100m.

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