Premier League clubs accounted for seven of the ten largest international transfer deals in 2021.
FIFA has published their annual Global Transfer Report, and it confirms that once again English sides were the biggest spenders when it comes to buying new players from overseas.
But it’s not all outgoings, with the data also showing that English clubs sold more players than any other international league – recouping more in transfer fees than any other into the bargain.
The report, which has collated data from nearly 55,000 professional, amateur and women’s transfers, doesn’t include the most expensive domestic deals, such as Jack Grealish’s £100 million move from Aston Villa to Manchester City, but reveals that Romelu Lukaku’s switch from Inter Milan to Chelsea was the highest-priced international transfer of 2021 at £97.5 million.
Jadon Sancho’s £73 million transfer to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund was next best, while mega-money deals involving Raphael Varane, Martin Odegaard and Ibrahima Konate also made the list.
Going the other way was Tammy Abraham, whose £33 million switch from Chelsea to Roma was the priciest sale made by an English club, who combined brought in almost £400 million in transfer fees during the course of the 2021 calendar year.
The top 10 for 2021 was:
- Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan to Chelsea, £97.5 million)
- Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund to Man Utd, £73 million)
- Achraf Hakimi (Inter Milan to PSG, £52 million)
- Raphael Varane (Real Madrid to Man Utd, £34 million)
- Tammy Abraham (Chelsea to Roma, £33 million)
- Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid to Arsenal, £31.5 million)
- Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig to Liverpool, £27 million)
- Bryan Gil (Sevilla to Tottenham, £21 million)
- Amad Diallo (Atalanta to Man Utd, £18.5 million)
- Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes to Real Madrid, £16 million)
Incredibly, some 885 players were either sold or loaned by English clubs, with Manchester City topping the table with 41 of those.
Cutting the Purse Strings
Despite all those big deals, there seems to be a lot less money sloshing about in football than there was pre-pandemic.
For the second consecutive year, there was an overall drop in the amount of transfer spending, despite the fact that the 18,068 international deals completed marked a return to the kind of figures recorded in 2019.
But the fall in monetary value was a considerable 13.6% from 2020 and 33.8% on the year prior to that, with $4.86 billion – around £3.5 billion – exchanging hands. English clubs led the way with £1.01 billion of that, followed by the £720 million plundered by Italian sides.
Perhaps most interestingly, some 88% of all the moves collated by FIFA’s findings did not involve a fee of any kind, while the 100 most expensive transfers on the list accounted for more than 50% of the total spend in 2021.
Bucking the trend is the women’s game, where overall spending on international transfers increased by a significant 72.8% from 2020. The number of international deals also rose by 26.2%.
That reflects the growing number of women that are playing the game professionally, and are happy to travel overseas to do so. The likes of Toni Duggan, Nikita Parris and Vicky Losada headed to the WSL after stints overseas, and more are expected to follow in 2022 as English football begins to embrace professional in the women’s game.