English FA Premier League: Summer Transfer Spending Decreases!

By Jonathan Copping, Lawyer, Stone King, London, UK

The English FA Premier League (EFPL) summer transfer window closed on 9 August 2018, following a vote by the clubs to close the transfer window prior to the start of the new season (2018-2019). In previous years, the transfer window has always closed at the end of August, usually after two or three rounds of fixtures.

This post looks at the key highlights from the 2018 summer transfer window for the EFPL clubs.

The first take away is that spending has fallen compared to previous seasons.

The total amount spent by the 20 clubs this summer was £1.27 billion. That figure is down from the £1.4 billion spent in the 2017 summer transfer window. The total number of transfers also dropped from 384 in 2017 to 282 in 2018.

Another striking feature of the transfer window is that the world record fee for a goalkeeper was beaten not once, but twice.

On 19 July 2018, Liverpool FC completed the deal for Brazilian national goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, for a then world record fee for a goalkeeper of £66.8million, signing him from Italian club, AS Roma. Approximately three weeks later, on the transfer deadline day, Chelsea broke the transfer record for a goalkeeper with the £71million signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao. It is quite remarkable that the transfer record for a goalkeeper was broken twice in three weeks, considering that the record had stood since 3 July 2001, when Juventus paid €53million for Gianluigi Buffon from Parma Calcio 1913.

Other highlights include:

  • Fulham became the first newly-promoted team in EFPL history to spend over £100 million in the summer transfer window. Backed by the ambitious Shad Khan, Fulham surpassed the £100 million barrier with the deadline day signing of Andre Anguissa from the French club, FC Olympique Marseille, for approximately £30million;
  • Tottenham Hotspur did not purchase a single player this summer;
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers, with close links to Portuguese super-agent, Jorge Mendes, continued to add Portuguese players to its ranks, with the addition of goalkeeper Rui Patricio and midfielder Joao Moutinho. Additionally, the club beat its transfer record with the purchase at £18 million of Adama Traore from the Championship club, Middlesbrough FC;
  • Liverpool FC spent over £170 million in its pursuit of closing the gap on Manchester City. In addition to the arrival of Alisson Becker, Liverpool also purchased midfielder Naby Keita from the German club RB Leipzig FC for £52.8million; Brazilian midfielder, Fabinho from AS Monaco FC for £40million; and Swiss midfielder, Xherdan Shaqiri, from Stoke City FC for £13million;
  • It was a quiet transfer window for Manchester United with only Brazilian midfielder, Fred, signing from FC Shakhtar Donetsk for £43.7 million and defender, Diogo Dalot from Porto FC for £19 million; and
  • West Ham United, in its pursuit to win over the alienated fans at the Olympic Stadium, spent £36 million on Brazilian midfielder, Felipe Anderson, from SS Lazio FC. Weeks before, the club had broken its transfer record with the signing of Issa Diop, from French club, Toulouse FC, for £22million.

Notwithstanding the fact that the EFPL clubs cannot purchase players until the transfer window reopens on 1 January 2019, it is still possible for foreign clubs to purchase players from the EFPL until the closure of the transfer windows in those countries. Due to the fact that only a handful of foreign clubs have the finances to purchase the top players from the EFPL, it is unlikely that any of their top players will be departing to play abroad, unless they become surplus to requirements at their current clubs.

It is not yet known whether the decision to bring the transfer deadline forward by the EFPL clubs ends up being a smart move; however, should the clubs feel that they are at a competitive disadvantage by the move, it is probable that they will vote to move the deadline  to be in line with the other European Football Leagues’ deadlines.

Jonathan Copping may be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@stoneking.co.uk’