Saturday 22 October 2016

Premier League clubs shelled out almost double on foreign players this summer as second-highest spenders

Matt Slater

Published 15/09/2016 | 11:48

Paul Pogba's move to Manchester United was the biggest individual deal of the summer
Paul Pogba's move to Manchester United was the biggest individual deal of the summer

Premier League clubs spent almost twice as much on international transfers as the second-biggest spending league Germany this summer.

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Data from FIFA's Transfer Matching System shows that teams in England, fuelled by a £2.7billion-a-season television deal, spent £880million in the summer transfer window.

The latest TMS report revealed that the five biggest leagues spent almost three times as much as the rest of the world this summer, with English football leading the way.

This will hardly come as a huge surprise after a summer that saw Paul Pogba join Manchester United from Juventus for a British record £89m, but the overall numbers are still staggering.

"Just as the Big 5 stand tall next to all other countries, England towers over France, Germany, Italy and Spain," the FIFA TMS report said.

"Revenue from television deals is often indicated as one of the causes of this gap, and the most recent deal is believed to be of benefit to all English clubs, both directly and through a trickle-down effect."

The Premier League's new domestic and international TV deals are worth £2.7bn a season for the next three years - a source of guaranteed income that has returned England's top flight to profit and seen total annual incomes soaring across the league.

This huge financial advantage enabled English clubs to spend £880m - an eight per cent rise on the 2015 summer transfer window - on 470 international transfers.

English football's net spend, the amount that actually flowed out of the country to other leagues, was a staggering £683m. German clubs were the biggest beneficiaries, earning £171m in transfer trading with England, more than 70 per cent of Germany's total receipts.

English clubs' outlay on overseas talent was two and a half times what their counterparts in Italy and Spain spent and more than six times what French clubs could afford.

The three biggest international shoppers in England spent almost as much as all of Germany's clubs. And the depth of English spending was on another level as 26 clubs paid out more than 5m US dollars (£3.78m) on international deals.

As the Pogba deal would suggest, England likes French players most of all, but it also likes them young. The average age of those arriving in England was under 23, with almost a third of the new arrivals being under 21. Italy, on the other hand, prefers veterans, with an average age of 28 for its overseas signings.

With all the details of each international transfer having to be logged on the FIFA TMS online platform since 2010, this report is the most accurate annual assessment of the global market.

Total summer spending rose for the fourth straight year to £2.81bn on a record 7,325 transfers but with many of those deals, particularly outside the 'Big 5', being for out-of-contract players, the average transfer fee fell from £4.15m to £3.93m.

Delving deeper into the 16-page report, other nations that spent record amounts on international deals this summer are China, Portugal and Turkey, although they are still a long way behind even France.

Another statistic that jumps out is the 35 per cent year-on-year increase in agents' fees, with nearly £200m flowing to their pockets this summer.

But Kimberly Morris, the head of integrity and compliance at FIFA TMS, said the regulatory framework is providing more transparency, particularly in regards to the protection of minors.

"It is a balancing act, as clubs are competitive entities and there are different regulatory circumstances around the world that we must respect," said Morris.

"But TMS has definitely increased transparency over the last five years, and the clubs and leagues are working much harder with each other to improve that even further.

"It's a market place, so there are always new challenges, but on the protection of minors - and we are really talking about the movement of children - there has been a huge improvement.

"The recent cases with the three big Spanish clubs that circumvented the regulations - Atletico, Barca and Real Madrid - sent a strong message and because of those decisions other clubs and leagues understood the importance of following the rules.

"It is through TMS that FIFA is able to vet and approve every transfer."

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