Transfer business is still the big money playground but Covid has slowed player inflation

October 8 – The biggest impact the Covid pandemic has had on football’s transfer market is to slow down the inflation of players’ prices that in the 2019 window, where like-for-like player transfer price inflation was running at 15%.

The report by the CIES Football Observatory finds that players signed by Big-5 league teams in the window just closed cost on average 6% more than players with “similar characteristics” in the 2019 summer transfer window.

“If a transfer takes place, the hypothesis according to which the price would have been negotiated to a lower level than before the pandemic does not hold true. In this regard, the most marking impact of the pandemic resides in the slowing down of the rampant inflation of players’ prices: from 15% on average per year between 2015 and 2019, down to 6% between 2019 and 2020,” says the report.

That said, in the last transfer window Big-5 clubs invested 43% less in transfer fees than in 2019. “The minimal fall was recorded in the English Premier League (from €1.65 to €1.49 billion, -10%), while the maximum was measured in the Spanish Liga (from €1.40 billion to €348 million, -75%),” says the report.

The CIES also points to a number of emerging trends in the new player transfer data including: An increase from 26.2% to 32.2% in the percentage of free transfers among all players taken on permanently; An increase of 23.1% to a record 30% in the percentage of players recruited on loan out of all signings;  a reinforcement of “the tendency” for teams to integrate conditional payments and sell-on percentages into the transactions.

See the full report at

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