A remarkable summer transfer window closed on Thursday with a number of new spending records set – including the most expensive ever deadline-day signing in Manchester United’s £82m purchase of Antony.
That deal helped set a new Premier League spending record of about £1.9bn – smashing the previous record of £1.4bn in 2017 – and dwarfing the rest of Europe.
Nine of the 20 top-flight clubs spent in excess of £100m as total expenditure bounced back after two seasons of Covid-impacted decline.
Other records included:
- Premier League clubs spending more than Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and the German Bundesliga combined
- Chelsea spending more in one window than any other club in Premier League history
- Manchester United smashing their own summer spending record
- Nottingham Forest signing more players in one summer than any other British club in history
The combined outlay of the 20 clubs during the window, which was open from 10 June until 1 September, was 67% higher than the previous summer’s total of £1.1bn.
According to financial services firm Deloitte, the 2022-23 season already has the highest transfer spend since the two-window season began – exceeding the previous record of £1.86bn, set in 2017-18, by 3%. And that is before the January transfer window has even opened.
Some of Deloitte’s other key findings from the window include:
- Gross spending across all of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues – Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 – increased by 52% to £3.88bn
- Premier League clubs were responsible for 49% of that spending, the highest proportion since summer 2008 and nearly three times that of the second-biggest spenders Serie A (£646m)
- Premier League clubs’ net transfer spend surpassed £1bn for the first time ever
- Premier League clubs signed 169 players, compared to 148 in summer 2021 and 132 in summer 2020
- The proportion of players being signed for a fee increased to 66% in summer 2022 from 45% in summer 2021
- Championship clubs’ gross spend more than doubled on the previous summer to £86m but was still some way off pre-Covid levels (2017-19 three-year average: £169.4m)
Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said: “The record level of spending during this transfer window is a clear indication of Premier League clubs’ confidence, as fans return to stadia and a new broadcast cycle begins.
However, Bridge told BBC Radio 4 that top-flight clubs will not be “cost-of-living proof” amid uncertainty surrounding the UK economy.
“Whilst we talk about football being recession-proof, it won’t be cost of living proof by any stretch of the imagination,” said Bridge. “It’s going to be incredibly expensive for clubs and organisations to put matches on and to really work hard to keep attracting fans and keep ensuring that they have the opportunity to engage.
“What we have to do is think about the responsibility that the industry has, in general, around financial sustainability. Ensuring that the clubs are there for the long term and recognising their real community asset status.
“We must step forward through this cost-of-living crisis and ensure that the football clubs continue to play what is a fantastic role above and beyond these headline numbers.”
What were the deadline-day signings?
Fourteen of the 20 Premier League clubs made at least one new signing on deadline day. Highlights include:
Manchester City bolstered their defence with the signing of Switzerland international Manuel Akanji from Borussia Dortmund on a five-year deal.
As well as signing Antony, Manchester United completed a season-long loan deal for Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Everton signed a couple of midfielders, with Senegal international Idrissa Gueye rejoining the Toffees from Paris St-Germain, and James Garner moving from Manchester United.
Liverpool also added a midfielder to their squad, with Brazil international Arthur Melo joining on a season-long loan from Juventus.
Leicester signed Belgium centre-back Wout Faes from French club Reims on a five-year deal to replace Wesley Fofana, who joined Chelsea for about £70m on Wednesday.
Nottingham Forest signed three players to make it 21 new faces this summer, with defender Loic Bade the last to arrive – on loan from Rennes.
Fulham had a busy deadline day, bringing in four players including former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Willian.
Chelsea announced the final two deals of the night, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joining from Barcelona on a two-year deal, and Switzerland midfielder Denis Zakaria joining on a season-long loan from Juventus.
What were the big transfers of the summer?
It was the start of a new era at Chelsea this summer with Todd Boehly taking over the club from Roman Abramovich, and the American billionaire certainly made his presence felt. The Blues spent more money in a single window than any club in Premier League history.
According to football website Transfermarkt, more than £250m went on the likes of Raheem Sterling, Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulibaly and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. As well as being a Premier League record, it is the second-highest summer spend by any club in the world after Real Madrid (£292m) in 2019.
Manchester United broke their own spending record to sit second on the Premier League list.
They brought in the likes of Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez over the summer, with their deadline-day capture of Antony taking their total spending up to about £214m – the fourth-highest summer spend by a Premier League club.
It was also a summer of strikers as a number of goalscorers made big-money moves including Erling Haaland to Manchester City, Darwin Nunez to Liverpool, Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal, Gianluca Scamacca to West Ham and Alexander Isak to Newcastle – the latter two being club-record deals.
Buying a new squad
Nottingham Forest are back in the Premier League for the first time since 1999, and judging by their summer shopping they are determined to stay there.
Steve Cooper’s side have embarked on an extraordinary spending spree, signing an incredible 21 new players for £145m – breaking the British record for most recruits in a single season.
According to Transfermarkt, the previous English record was the 17 players Crystal Palace signed in the summer of 2013. The British record was previously held by Livingston and Dundee United, who signed 19 players apiece in 2001 and 2000 respectively.
It could have been 22 new faces for Forest, too, but a late move to sign Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi from Chelsea fell through.
|Dean Henderson||Remo Freuler|
|Wayne Hennessey||Lewis O’Brien|
|Cheikhou Kouyate||Giulian Biancone|
|Jesse Lingard||Moussa Niakhate|
|Brandon Aguilera||Orel Mangala|
|Harry Toffolo||Emmanuel Dennis|
|Ui-jo Hwang (moved on loan to Olympiakos)||Neco Williams|
|Renan Lodi||Omar Richards|
|Josh Bowler (moved on loan to Olympiakos)||Willy Boly|
|Morgan Gibbs-White||Taiwo Awoniyi|
The pressure that money can bring
With such lavish sums being spent across the division, the pressure has been cranked up on those clubs who may not be willing or able to pay such exorbitant fees.
Scott Parker lamented that his Bournemouth side were “ill-equipped” for the Premier League after their 9-0 thrashing by Liverpool last weekend.
Owner Maxim Demin responded by sacking him two days later, saying: “We must also show belief in and respect for one another.”
Leicester have also had a quiet window, bringing in just two players and letting a number of established stars leave – including goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and key defender Fofana, who made it clear he wanted to leave the club for several weeks before eventually completing his move to Stamford Bridge.
The Foxes have also started badly on the pitch and were booed by their own fans after Thursday’s 1-0 home defeat by Manchester United left them bottom of the table.
Like Parker, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers publicly expressed frustration at his club’s lack of transfer activity, though perhaps not in quite as explicit terms as the former Cherries boss.
“I understand the fans’ frustration. They see all their rivals getting players in and we’re not getting any,” he said after the defeat by United.
“To watch clubs in the top five leagues add players and we haven’t been able to do that has been difficult. We needed help and we haven’t been able to do that.
“With the greatest respect, we have not had the help in the market this team needed.”
The ones that got away
Though Premier League spending reached record levels, there were still a number of deals that did not materialise.
Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to leave Manchester United this summer just 12 months after returning to the club from Juventus but the Portugal forward remains at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils also agreed a £63.5m deal with Barcelona for Frenkie de Jong but a dispute between the Spanish club and the Netherlands midfielder eventually scuppered the move after a pursuit that lasted much of the window.
Everton winger Anthony Gordon was subject of a £45m bid from Chelsea but the Toffees did not want to sell the England Under-21 international and eventually managed to keep him.
Arsenal made a late move to sign Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz but saw two bids, the latter worth £23m, turned down by the Midlands club.
But perhaps the most unusual non-transfer story of deadline day was Bamba Dieng.
Leeds were so confident of landing the Marseille forward chairman Andrea Radrizzani tweeted that the club were set to “welcome” him to Elland Road.
But with the 22-year-old at the airport poised to head to the UK from France, Marseille’s Ligue 1 rivals Nice moved in to hijack the deal.
Yet, there’s more.
With a 9m euro move seemingly imminent, Dieng suffered a minor problem with the medical and the deal was off.
As Radrizzani later tweeted: “Part of the madness of deadline day.”