EPL leads record transfer spree
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.