By yesterday morning, football clubs in the top five leagues in Europe had completed 1 401 deals worth £4.73 billion (R86.84 billion), with the Premier League accounting for the largest chunk of those deals – a staggering £1.79 billion in 421 deals.
La Liga is catching up – the Spanish league recorded 271 deals worth £1.53 billion, The transfer window in Spain only ends on August 31, so they may well break the bank.
But for the Premier League, the window closed on Thursday to much hype, fanfare and memes. Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were expected to go full throttle on the market.
Instead, United were content with making Harry Maguire the most expensive defender (£80 million) and adding compatriot Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£45 million) from Crystal Palace to their backline. They also managed to sign another England youngster, winger Daniel James from Swansea, for £15 million. The only major release of the club saw forward Romelu Lukaku transfer to Inter Milan for £73 million.
Spurs, who did not sign any players during the previous two transfer windows, managed to scrape together two of their four arrivals on deadline day – midfielders Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham and Giovani Lo Celso acquired on loan from Real Betis. Earlier in the window period, they broke the club record and signed Tanguy Ndombélé from Lyon for £55.5 million.
Two major Spurs departures were defender Kieran Trippier (£20 million) and forward Fernando Llorente – who was released into the world of free agents.
However, of the top-six clubs, the biggest losers were Chelsea, who were banned by Fifa from making any new signings following an investigation into their acquisition of foreign players younger than 18.
The Blues saw their talisman Eden Hazard leave very early on in the summer for £122 million to take up the number 7 jersey at Real Madrid, while David Luiz left on deadline day to join rivals Arsenal for £8 million.
The only ray of sunshine was that Mateo Kovacic, who has been on loan from Madrid, made his stay in London permanent.
Arsenal, to their credit, spent freely and acquired Luiz, and defenders Kieran Tierney and William Saliba. They also completed a club-record £72-million move from Lille of Ivory Coast attacker Nicolas Pépé, who became Africa’s most expensive Premier League signing.
Senegal’s Ismaïla Sarr also had a record of his own after Watford broke the bank to sign him from Rennes for £30 million.
The Gunners sold Nigerian winger Alex Iwobi to Everton for £40 million, while Egyptian attacker Trézéguet joined Aston Villa for £8.8 million.
Villa, the busiest club this transfer period, signed the most players (13), with their net transfer balance also the largest of any Premier League side at negative £146.3 million. This included another African star on their books, Zimbabwean midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, who signed for £11 million from Club Brugge. For Ghana’s Jordan Ayew, £3 million was enough for Swansea to sell him to Crystal Palace.
All in all, it was not one of the most money-centric transfer windows for English clubs as, collectively, this summer’s transfers saw the net spend fall by more than 25%, even though their revenues increased by 22% last season.