Football: Premier League smashes January transfer window record

Liverpool lined up the costliest deal of January, signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for £75 million (S$139.9 million). PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Premier League clubs spent a record £430 million (S$800 million) in the January transfer window as top sides scrambled to boost their squads in the race to secure lucrative Champions League spots, according to analysis by Deloitte.

The sum spent was nearly double the previous record of £225 million, with deadline day alone, January 31, seeing clubs complete deals totalling £150 million ($214 million, 172 million euros), also a new record for the winter window.

Deloitte's Sports Business Group estimates spending by Premier League clubs in the 2017/18 season to be a record £1.9 billion, eclipsing last season's record of £1.4 billion.

"Premier League clubs have taken the opportunity to refresh their squads in January before the decisive phase of the season," said Dan Jones, a partner in the accountancy firm.

Nearly two-thirds of the gross expenditure was by the top six, while the bottom six accounted for about a fifth.

The winter transfer window usually sees the bulk of spending by clubs at the bottom of the league as they attempt to spend their way to survival from relegation, although last month's splurge is more like a normal summer window.

"Such is the level of competition for a coveted top-four position in the Premier League, as well as ongoing European battles, that top clubs have been willing to break with more traditional summer investment strategies to steal a march on their rivals mid-season, with several club transfer records being broken in this window," said Jones.

He added that international trade had flourished, with the highest-ever January gross overseas outlay in Premier League history (£260 million), but also the highest amount of January receipts from abroad (£185 million), with names such as Philippe Coutinho and Diego Costa leaving England and Aymeric Laporte and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arriving.

Brazil midfielder Coutinho moved from Liverpool to Barcelona after five seasons at Anfield, while Chelsea's wantaway Spanish striker Costa left for Atletico Madrid.

Manchester City spent £57 million on Athletic Bilbao defender Laporte and Aubameyang signed for Arsenal for £56 million.

Liverpool got in early to line up the costliest deal of the month, signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for £75m.

One of the most high-profile transfers, Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, was a straight swap deal, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going in the opposite direction.

A new January transfer window record for player sales was also set, with deals totalling £340 million, leaving net transfer expenditure at £90 million.

"While another record-breaking season catches the eye, Premier League clubs' expenditure continues to be well within their means in the context of revenue generated," said Jones.

"Estimated 2017/18 net spend of £755 million represents just 17 percent of forecast 2017/18 Premier League revenue, in line with the average over the 15 years since the first transfer window in January 2003, as clubs' increase investment in players in proportion to the overall growth of the football business."

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