The transfer market this summer has marked a new milestone in the history of football: the six championships that have led spending have exceeded 6,200 million euros of investment in players, the highest figure in history according to data from Transfer market. Worldwide, the figure rises to more than 7,600 million, also a record. Just three years after the pandemic brought European football to the brink of collapse, the main tournaments have picked up the pace of spending. In England, Germany, Italy and France, their historical marks have been exceeded. However, in Spain we will still have to wait to see the figures of yesteryear again. LaLiga is, for the first time since 2013, the sixth championship at investment level, with just over 400 million spent this summer. Ahead are the other major European leagues, in addition to the Saudi Pro League. In 2019, the last market before the outbreak of the pandemic, Spanish clubs disbursed 1,540 million, and four years later, the figure does not reach a third. This year, only Real Madrid has pulled the bandwagon. Barcelona left 158 million in transfers last year, but this summer they have only been able to spend 3.4.
The LaLiga sources explain that this situation is mainly due to two factors. “The vast majority of clubs are at a different investment moment than before the pandemic. Investment in assets associated with the long term is being prioritized, renovating stadiums and sports cities. In addition, we have an economic control in which financial sustainability prevails. The clubs have imposed some rules under the fundamental pillar of investing and spending what they are capable of generating for themselves”, point out from the employers’ association, which accuses competitions such as the Premier of “distorting the market and putting the survival of the clubs at risk long-term clubs. This “distortion” has resulted in a record-breaking summer. The following charts reflect several of those records:
The other big four take off
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The Premier League, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 have broken their spending records this summer. Serie A has achieved the highest income in its history. However, the League has still not recovered from the general fall suffered by the markets in 2020. This summer it has disbursed the second lowest figure in the last decade.
The Premier spends almost as much as the other four combined
The more than 2,500 million disbursed by the Premier represent practically half of the investment in transfers of the five major European leagues. Of the seven teams that have spent the most, five are English (Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham), in addition to Saudi Al-Hilal and PSG. Only Chelsea have spent more than the 20 clubs in the Spanish league. Another record this summer is that, for the first time, more than 100 million has been paid for four players in the same market: Declan Rice (116.6), Moises Caicedo (116), Jude Bellingham (103) and Harry Kane ( 100). The signing of the English midfielder from Real Madrid accounts for 25% of LaLiga’s spending.
The Real Madrid pulls of LaLiga
Focusing the analysis on the national competition, Real Madrid has been the great engine of spending in this transfer market. The whites, with 129 million, monopolize a third of all the disbursement of LaLiga, the only ones that have invested more than 40 million. It is difficult for the teams to strengthen themselves and they see how clubs from other leagues arrive with a full wallet for their players. This summer, due to the numerous sales, LaLiga presents its second best income-expense balance in a decade, with a profit of 124 million.
“After the pandemic, the market for buying and selling players has fallen, sales are down, and therefore, purchases are down in a sustainable system like ours,” they explain from LaLiga. “You have to look at the balance between purchases and sales, that is, the net investment. Spain is the second country in the major leagues in net investment in transfers, only surpassed by the Premier League, which is a model at a loss. In any case: Who says that spending more means being a better league? We think that it is better to spend well than to spend a lot”.
Focused on market opportunities
The drop in investment by Spanish clubs is also explained by the considerable drop in the number of operations after the pandemic. In Spain, many teams have opted to take advantage of “market opportunities”, players who were free or who could come at a reduced cost due to their short contract time remaining. In this way, the number of transfers and assignments has plummeted since 2020.
Although this situation may seem worrying, from LaLiga they insist that the clubs are on the right track. “The prospects are very positive. The recovery is on the right track and Spanish football continues to grow. In addition to the traditional income of the clubs, income related to new commercial initiatives is added. In addition, the clubs will begin to have a very positive impact in the medium term from the investments that are being made in their stadiums in the rest of the lines that promote their growth. And all this without losing financial sustainability”.
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