January 31 – Clubs worldwide spent a record $9.63 billion on international transfers last year, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by more than $2 billion.
The latest figures published by FIFA in its Global Transfer Report represent a 48.1% increase compared to 2022 when transfer spending began to climb again after two years of belt-tightening due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The top 10 player transfers in 2023 accounted for over 10% of the entire outlay. Those deals included Jude Bellingham’s move to Real Madrid, Enzo Fernandez joining Chelsea and Harry Kane signing for Bayern Munich.
English clubs, not surprisingly led by Chelsea, again topped the list by splashing out a combined $2.96 billion – three times as much as those in France, which placed second on the list. The top deals included Enzo Fernandez to Chelsea from Benfica, Mykhailo Mudryk to Chelsea from Shakhtar Donetsk and Joško Gvardiol to Manchester City from Leipzig
Clubs from Saudi Arabia broke into the top five spenders for the first time with a combined outlay of $970 million following the notable purchases of Neymar, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez. Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema also moved to the Gulf kingdom, but on free transfers.
Chelsea were followed by Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich as the top five biggest-spending teams in 2023.
In contrast, German sides received the most in transfer fees at almost $1.21 billion – boosted by the sales of Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) and Randal Kolo Muani, who left Eintracht Frankfurt for PSG.
Portuguese clubs brought in the greatest numbers of players from abroad with 1,017 incoming transfers, while Brazil exported the most with a total of 1,217.
The FIFA report also highlighted the “impressive growth” of the transfer market in women’s football.
In 2023, a total of 623 women’s clubs were involved in international transfers, up from 507 the year prior.
Some 1,888 players moved from one country to another as well, surpassing the 1,571 in 2022, and generating record annual spending of $6.1 million – up 84.2% from 2022.
FIFA’s study is not a complete picture because it does not count transfers deals between two clubs in the same country. Hundreds of millions were spent in English football on deals for the likes of Declan Rice, Alexis MacAllister, Moises Caicedo and Kai Havertz.
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