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Premier League transfers hit record

Premier League clubs have shelled out a record £1.4-billion in transfers this season, according to a report on Wednesday that warned of over-reliance on Chinese largesse.

The Deloitte consultancy study said top-tier English sides made £40-million in profit from the January transfer window, the first time they have come out of the football horse-trading in the black.

The market closed on Tuesday night with Southampton swooping for Napoli’s Italy forward Manolo Gabbiadini for at least £14-million and Burnley completing the reported club-record £13-million signing of Norwich winger Robbie Brady.

Deloitte said total gross spending by Premier League clubs for the 2016-2017 season is now almost £1.4-billion, smashing the previous record of £1-billion last season.

The outlay was “far in excess of any other league in world football”, said Dan Jones of Deloitte’s sports business department. In all, the 20 Premier League clubs spent £215-million on new players during the market from January 1 until Tuesday, he said, the second-highest amount for this window since 2011.

The bottom six teams fighting for their Premier League lives – Hull City, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Swansea, reigning champions Leicester City and Middlesbrough – accounted for more than 50% of the January sales spending.

But the Premier League still came out in the black as a whole.

“The sales of Oscar, Dimitri Payet, Odion Ighalo and Memphis Depay, as well as around £20-million worth of sales to championship clubs, have helped Premier League clubs record net receipts for the first time in a transfer window,” said Jones.

The vast amounts thrown about by English sides was put into context by Germany’s Bundesliga. German clubs shattered their previous total record in splashing out €97.35-million (£82.84-million) in the January transfer window, easily beating the previous record of €65-million set during the 2014-2015 season.

This month has seen the increasingly wealthy Chinese Super League flex its financial muscles with Brazil international Oscar leaving Chelsea for Shanghai SIPG in a move worth £51-million. That followed former Manchester City and Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez’s £71.6-million switch to Shanghai’s top team, Shanghai Shenhua.

One of the few big deals in the closing hours of the window saw more Chinese spending as Watford striker Ighalo joined Changchun Yatai for a fee reported to be around £20-million.

But Deloitte warned the days of Chinese teams splashing out on players could be coming to an end.

“CSL [Chinese Super League] clubs have spent over £150-million so far during their current off-season, which began in November 2016,” Jones said.

“However, with the CFA [Chinese Football Association] having recently announced that tighter regulations around player transfer and salary expenditure are to be introduced, as well as imposing limits on the number of foreign players allowed, it will be interesting to see whether CSL clubs match this level of expenditure in future off-seasons.” – AFP

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Julian Guyer
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