EPL leads record trans­fer spree

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

PARIS — The cash-loaded English Premier League led a record-break­ing raid for tal­ent by Europe’s top clubs be­fore the trans­fer win­dow slammed shut yes­ter­day, with Arse­nal alone pay­ing more than 60 mil­lion euros for Ger­man de­fender Shko­dran Mustafi and Span­ish striker Lu­cas Perez.

More big names were lined up for moves yes­ter­day with Liver­pool’s out­cast striker Mario Balotelli hav­ing a med­i­cal at French club Nice. Eng­land mid­fielder Jack Wil­shere was ex­pected to leave Arse­nal on loan.

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 “Gabigol” Bar­bosa and Va­len­cia goal-scorer Paco Al­cacer re­spec­tively.

About 50 mil­lion euros were spent on the pair and most an­a­lysts pre­dict Euro­pean spend­ing will eas­ily be the high­est yet when the two-month trans­fer win­dow closes .

Spend­ing by Eng­land’s 20-club Premier League alone was ex­pected to bust the one bil­lion pounds (1.17 bil­lion euros, $1.3 bil­lion) bar­rier after Manch­ester United set a new world record with the 89 mil­lion pound pur­chase this month of French mid­fielder Paul Pogba.

Arse­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger was one of the late big-spenders. The Gun­ners, eighth in the early stand­ings, spent an es­ti­mated 35 mil­lion pounds (42 mil­lion euros) to bring Ger­man in­ter­na­tional de­fender Mustafi from Va­len­cia.

“He is at the right age,” Wenger said of the 24-yearold, who was in Ger­many’s 2014 World Cup-win­ning squad and in the team that reached the Euro 2016 semi-fi­nals.

Arse­nal paid another 17 mil­lion pounds for De­portivo La Coruna striker Perez, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports. Wenger has al­ready bought Switzer­land mid­fielder Granit Xhaka, Ja­panese for­ward Takuma Asano and young English cen­tre-back Rob Hold­ing.

“He’s not only a goalscorer, he’s a guy who com­bines well with part­ners, who can give a fi­nal ball and makes good runs,” said Wenger of Perez.

Arse­nal de­fender Serge Gnabry re­turned to Ger­many with Werder Bre­men.

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

“Gabigol is an In­ter player,” the Serie A giants said in a state­ment, an­nounc­ing a five-year con­tract.

In­ter did not re­lease fi­nan­cial de­tails but Gazzetta dello Sport web­site re­ported In­ter paid the Brazil­ian club 27.5m euros for “Gabigol”, who has drawn com­par­isons with Ney­mar.

Spain in­ter­na­tional Al­cacer joined Barcelona from Va­len­cia in a 30 mil­lion euro, five-year deal, the Cata­lan side an­nounced.

The 20-year-old, who scored 13 goals in 34 ap­pear­ances for Va­len­cia last sea­son, will heighten com­pe­ti­tion in the Barcelona front­line al­ready led by Ney­mar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Other big-name deals are likely as top play­ers seek a reg­u­lar game in in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive squads.

Chelsea let French in­ter­na­tional striker Loic Remy go on loan to Crys­tal Palace for one sea­son.

Balotelli, 26, who has been told he is not wanted at Liver­pool, was ex­pected in Nice for a med­i­cal amid talks over a per­ma­nent trans­fer or loan, l’Equipe news­pa­per re­ported.

Palace and AC Mi­lan are also among con­tenders to take Arse­nal’s Wil­shere on loan.

Manch­ester City’s out-of-favour Eng­land goal­keeper Joe Hart was set to com­plete a move to Torino in Italy.

But the English Premier League’s 5.14bn (6.9 bil­lion euro), 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 43m euros. With ad­di­tional fees, the fig­ure could rise to 50 mil­lion for a player who had made just 47 Bun­desliga ap­pear­ances be­fore City signed him.— AFP.

Shko­dran Mustafifi

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