EPL leads record transfer spending

English Premier League logo is seen on the match ball ahead of the pre-season friendly football match between Wigan Athletic and Manchester United at the DW stadium in Wigan, northwest England, on July 16, 2016.
English Premier League logo is seen on the match ball ahead of the pre-season friendly football match between Wigan Athletic and Manchester United at the DW stadium in Wigan, northwest England, on July 16, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Premier League breaks £1 billion barrier as Europe's other leagues attempt to keep pace

LONDON • The cashed-up English Premier League (EPL) led a record-breaking raid by Europe's top clubs before the transfer window slammed shut yesterday, with Arsenal alone paying more than €60 million (S$91.11 million) for German defender Shkodran Mustafi and Spanish striker Lucas Perez.

The Premier League's TV riches have fuelled transfer inflation across the continent, with Inter Milan and Barcelona paying top dollar for Brazil's exciting Olympic gold medal-winning striker Gabriel Barbosa and Valencia striker Paco Alcacer respectively.

About €50 million were spent on the pair and spending by England's 20-club Premier League alone has busted the £1 billion (S$1.79 billion) barrier, fuelled by Manchester United's £89 million purchase last month of French midfielder Paul Pogba.

The Premier League's previous peak for total transfer fees paid was £870 million last season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was one of the late big-spenders. The Gunners, eighth in the early standings, spent an estimated £35 million to bring German international Mustafi from Valencia.

"He is at the right age," Wenger said of the 24-year-old, who was in Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning squad and was part of the team that reached the Euro 2016 semi-finals. "And he has good experience."

PREMIER PRICES

If English managers are on the phone, then the (transfer) sums are automatically higher.

CHRISTIAN HEIDEL, Schalke sporting director, on transfer negotiations.

Arsenal paid another £17 million for Deportivo La Coruna striker Perez, while they have also bought Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka, Japanese forward Takuma Asano and young English centre-back Rob Holding. "He's not only a goal-scorer, he's a guy who combines well with partners, who can give a final ball and makes good runs," said Wenger of Perez.

Serie A giants Inter Milan confirmed the signing of Barbosa on his 20th birthday late on Tuesday.

Inter did not release financial details of the five-year contract but Gazzetta dello Sport website reported Inter paid Brazilian club Santos €27.5 million for "Gabigol".

Spain international Alcacer joined Barcelona from Valencia in a €30 million, five-year deal. The 20-year-old, who scored 13 goals in 34 appearances for Valencia last season, will heighten competition in the Barca frontline already led by Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

But the Premier League's £5.14 billion, three-season television deal has set a pace that few other championships can keep up with.

Christian Heidel, sporting director for German club Schalke, said the Premier League has forced up prices everywhere.

"If English managers are on the phone, then the (transfer) sums are automatically higher," Heidel said on a talk show for Kicker magazine. "If the negotiations are within Germany, then it is often difficult to exclude the higher sums from England."

Schalke this month sold Germany winger Leroy Sane, 20, to Manchester City for a reported €43 million.

With additional fees, the figure could rise to €50 million for a player who had made just 47 Bundesliga appearances.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline 'EPL leads record transfer spending'. Print Edition | Subscribe