English soccer flaunts financial power in $2.2B spending spree

A RECORD spending spree by Premier League clubs in the summer transfer market passed the $2.2 billion mark before the window closed Thursday with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and—belatedly—Chelsea all signing players to conclude the reshaping of their squads.

The headline transfer on a typically frantic final day of trading was the arrival of Brazil winger Antony at United from Ajax for $95 million, making him the fourth expensive player in Premier League history and soccer’s most expensive deadline-day signing.

That took United’s total spend in this wildest of transfer windows to about $240 million—a figure only topped in the whole of Europe by Chelsea, which finally signed an out-and-out striker in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona. In the club’s first transfer window in the post-Roman Abramovich era, Chelsea spent a staggering $280 million.

Man City’s signing of Switzerland center back Manuel Akanji for $17.5 million felt low-key by comparison, while Liverpool’s only move—the loan signing of Brazil international Arthur Melo from Juventus—was still significant as it strengthened the team’s injury-hit midfield.

Fueled by income from huge global broadcasting deals worth about £10 billion ($11.8 billion) over three seasons, Premier League clubs have reverted to pre-pandemic levels of spending—and then some—to leave the rest of Europe in its wake.

England’s top-flight clubs spent about the same on players as those in the top leagues in Spain ($500 million), Italy ($750 million), Germany ($485 million) and France ($540 million) combined, according to calculations by the Transfermarkt web site.

The net spend of the Premier League teams was $1.35 billion, compared to Italy ($8 million) and Spain ($64 million). In France and Germany, the leagues actually made a profit according to Transfermarkt.

Summing up the outrageous splurge by English clubs was the business conducted by Nottingham Forest since securing a return to the Premier League for the first time since 1999.

Forest signed three players on deadline day to take its total number of incomings across the window to a remarkable 21, at a cost of $160 million. AP

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