England’s big guns reload as transfer arms race heats up
LONDON — Premier League spending looks certain to shatter all previous records before the current transfer window closes as England’s superpowers reload in an increasingly frenzied arms race.
Fueled by lucrative television contracts, currently worth around $10.8 billion and unprecedented revenue streams at home and overseas, the 20 Premier League teams have spent like never before in the weeks since the summer transfer window opened.
Already close to $1.2 billion has been paid for new players, with the single window record of $1.7 billion well within reach with over a month before the market closes.
Determined to make amends for last season’s surprisingly lackluster debut campaign in the Premier League, which saw Manchester City finish 15 points behind champions Chelsea, Pep Guardiola has played a key role in driving the market sky high.
City boss Guardiola, backed by his club’s Abu Dhabi-based billionaire owners, has embarked on a historically lavish spending spree, including paying $68 million for Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy in a world-record deal for a defender on Monday.
Mendy’s arrival came just days after the $34 million capture of Danilo from Real Madrid.
England rightback Kyle Walker cost City $65 million from Tottenham as Guardiola took just 10 days to spend $167 million on three fullbacks.
A $54 million offer persuaded Monaco to sell Bernardo Silva to City, while Douglas Luiz moved to Eastlands from Vasco Da Gama for $13.5 million.
Throw in Guardiola’s $44 million swoop for Benfica goalkeeper Ederson and the Spaniard has already splashed out $280 million.
That eclipsed the record spending total for a British club in a single transfer period, racing past the $219 million mark which, not surprisingly, was also set by Guardiola last season.
City seem certain to shatter the $288 million forked out by
From left: Benjamin Mendy, Danilo and Kyle Walker.
Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 — which stands as the biggest outlay in one transfer window.
Guardiola would love to land $65 million-rated Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, who is refusing to extend a contract that expires next summer, by the time the Premier League begins on Aug 11.
Keen not to be left behind by City, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been pressuring Blues owner Roman Abramovich to back his demand for major investment ahead of his side’s return to the Champions League after a one-year absence.
So far, Chelsea has spent over $156 million, with its headline deals a $75.5 million move for Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata and a $44 million swoop for Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had to pay a British-record $98 million to beat his old club Chelsea to the signature of Everton’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku.
That deal, following the $40 million signing of Benfica’s Victor Lindelof, moved United over the $132 million mark.
Arsene Wenger’s decision to extend his 21-year reign at Arsenal after a turbulent season persuaded Gunners owner Stan Kroenke to sanction the club-record $65.5 million signing of striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon.
Liverpool also broke its transfer record, paying $48 million for Roma winger Mohamed Salah.
And, in a perfect encapsulation of the Premier League’s spending prowess, even Everton, notoriously careful with their finances in the past, has paid over $118 million as it lured Wayne Rooney, Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford among others to Goodison Park.
Newly promoted Huddersfield and Newcastle have both spent over $42 million already, while only Tottenham and Stoke have yet to get the check book out.
While some look at the astronomical fees being paid and wonder if the desire of English clubs to flex their financial muscles could one day prove fatal for some of the less historically successful teams, the Premier League’s executive chairman Richard Scudamore insists the spree remains sustainable.
“Profitability is improving. The most important thing is player costs as a percentage of turnover,” Scudamore said last week.
“We’re down in the early 60 percents and we were much higher 10 years ago. Sixty per cent of turnover spent on player costs is actually very manageable.”
Scudamore’s message is simple: Carry on spending and there’s little doubt his league will rise to the challenge.