THE PREMIER LEAGUE spent the equivalent of US$ 2.2 billion in transfers in 2022, according to the latest FIFA Global Transfer Report. Of the top 20 spenders, 11 came from the Premier, with Manchester United topping the list.
FIFA revealed that transfers were up 11.6% in 2022 and exceeded 20,000 transactions for the first time. Surprisingly, only 2,843 deals included a fee and 17,366 had no fee at all. There were just 276 deals of more than US$ 5 million. While 2,679 transfers were permanent, the vast majority, over 13,000 were cases of players being out of contract. In total, transfer fees were up by 33% to US$ 6.5 billion, although this was still below the expenditure of 2018 and 2019. Of this, US$ 5.8 billion was attributable to UEFA members.
Sell-on fees are gaining in popularity, rising by 35% in 2022, but these are feasible only on permanent deals and loans, the true figure is 42.1%. These clauses are more appropriate for transfers of younger players with plenty of upside in their careers, hence 72.8% of transfers of players under the age of 18 include a sell-on. In the age group 18-23, these fees are included in 45.7% of contracts.
The Premier League was involved in eight of the top 10 deals by value, including six purchases and two sales. Among the transactions were Liverpool’s acquisition of Darwin Núñez from Benfica, Manchester United’s purchase of Real Madrid’s Casemiro and the bargain € 60 million paid by Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland.
Brazilian players, as ever, are the most popular in the market, with 2,061 deals in 2022 valued at US$ 843 million. Argentina is next in the ranking with 1,004 transfers totalling US$ 380 million. From a European perspective, French players are sought after, as evidenced by the 921 transfers valued at US$ 592 million. The busiest transfer route is Brazil to Portugal, which accounted for 338 transfers, more than double the next busiest, which was Portugal to Brazil. In terms of fees, the most valuable route was France to England, which generated US$ 355 million in transfer fees.
The Premier League’s ability to lure top talent is demonstrated in Football Benchmark’s top 50 players by value. The Premier has 46% of the 50, including seven with Manchester City and five at Liverpool. Seven of the 50 are English and 16 of the Premier’s 23 are foreign.
CIES Football Observatory calculated that in 2022-23, Chelsea have outspent everyone in Europe, their 15 transfers totalling € 555 million, more than twice the amount spent by Manchester United. One controversial aspect of Chelsea’s market activity has been the length of contracts being offered to some players, notably the seven years offered to Wesley Fofana and Benoit Badiashile. FIFA’s report stated that the average for contracts over US$ 500,000 was 32 months.
The current transfer deadline is still a few days away, but the Premier League has already spent more than £ 450 million, a record for the January window. Whatever else is going on in the world, for the Premier it is business as usual.