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Football transfer spending hits record $7.35bn

Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland (by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

Football clubs spent $7.35bn (€6.6bn) on men’s player transfers globally in 2019, a 5.8-per-cent increase on 2018, according to Fifa.

English clubs spent the most despite their figure being down 22 per cent on the previous year, at just over $1.5bn. They also had the biggest negative net balance from transfer spending, at minus $550m. Portuguese clubs had the largest positive net balance, at $384m. Just 100 clubs accounted for 80 per cent of total spending. A record total of 18,042 international transfers was made.

The data was published in Fifa’s Global Transfer Market Reports, compiled from the data in the Fifa Transfer Matching System. The TMS is the governing body’s mandatory transfer record system.

Introducing the data, Fifa’s chief legal and compliance officer Dr Emilio García Silvero said: “It is remarkable to see a new record number of transfers in the men’s market. We observe as well increasing all-round figures in the women’s market, which is a sign of the positive overall development of women’s football over the last year which we trust will continue in 2020.”

Transfer spending in the women’s game is on the rise but remains minuscule compared to men’s football, at $652,000 in total in 2019, up from $560,000 in 2018. This was across 833 transfers, up from 696.

Other notable statistics from the report included:

  • The most expensive male player transfer was João Félix to Atlético Madrid for $139m.
  • The total men’s spending figure came from 15 per cent of player transfers – 85 per cent were free transfers. Players that were out of contract accounted for 64.3 per cent of all transfers.
  • More than one in every four transfers of male players under 18 included sell-on fees.
  • Brazil had the most clubs involved in international transfers at 306. Germany (144) was second, Spain third (130) and England (128) fourth.
  • Almost 20 per cent of female player transfers involved a player from the US.
  • The average contract duration for female players has grown from 10.5 months in 2018 to 12.1 months in 2019.
  • A player moving from Australia to the US was the most common female player transfer, and a player moving the other way the second most common.
  • Spain had the most incoming female player transfers at 104, followed by the US (72) and England (57).