Lukaku is biggest 2021 transfer in a market that has dropped $2.49bn from 2019

January 14 – The global transfer market is still reeling from the impact of Covid-19, shrinking to $4.86 billion in 2021, down 13.6% from the $5.63 billion spend in 2020, FIFA’s Global Transfer Report has found.

It is the second consecutive year that transfer spending has driopped. In 2019, the market spending peaked at $7.35 billion in fees worldwide.

The report found that there were 18,068 international transfers in 2021, which represents an increase of 5.1% compared to 2020.

Transfers of out-of-contract players represented 67% of activity, highlighting how the dynamics of the transfer market have changed because of shrinking budgets and mammoth losses.

Of those out-of-contract players, 43.5% were at the end of their contract. Significantly, FIFA reports that “the median transfer fee also fell sharply in 2021, dropping to $300,000 and thus back to the levels of 2011.”

Chelsea’s acquisition of Romelu Lukaku was the highest value transfer in 2021, with Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi completing the top three. Manchester United’s Raphael Varane came in fourth.

The French overtook the Brazilians in the top 10 player nationalities by total spending on transfer fees: $643.6 million was spent on French players, $ 468,4 million on Brazilian players.

However, Brazilian players are still the most sought after, with 1,749 international transfers of Brazilian players in 2021. Argentinian and British players feature in second and third place with 896 and 837 transfers respectively.

The men’s transfer market has experienced a drop in spending, but in the women’s game the growth continues. The report reveals transfer fees in women’s professional football increased by 72.8%, from $1.2 million in 2020 to $2.1 million in 2021, the top five transfers of the year generated 60% of the income.

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