English clubs spent almost half as much as the rest of Europe’s top five leagues combined in 2016 – a year which set new a new record for transfer fees spent across the world.
Football clubs spent a total of $4.79 billion (£3.8bn) during 2016, an increase of 14.3 per cent on 2015, according to a new report by FIFA’s Transfer Matching System. That year-on-year increase is the biggest since 2013.
A total of 82% of that global fee was spent by UEFA members, but clubs in England top the list.
Last year saw Paul Pogba join Manchester United for £89 million, while players such as Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Leroy Sane, John Stones, Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and N’Golo Kante also commanded big fees.
In total, British clubs splurged £1.03bn last year, with the vast majority of it being spent by Premier League sides as the English top flight continues to flex its muscles as the richest division in the world. That amount is 43% of the total spent by clubs across Europe’s main leagues, including Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
However, a new trend has arisen in the transfer market, with China’s mass spending upsetting the status quo. The Chinese Super League showed in 2015 it has potential as a developing league with some interesting transfers, but the super-rich country stepped up its game last year.
By spending £359.5m, Chinese clubs spent 2.5 times more in 2016 than they did in 2015, which is 344% more than the rest of the Asian Football Confederation.
China is now the fifth highest spending association in the world, having overtaken France, Portugal and Russia.
While UEFA clubs continue to prosper and Chinese teams show off their worth in the transfer market, those in South America are keeping costs low. CONMEBOL clubs spent £145.5m last year, though it was 84.2% more than they spent the previous year.