Transfers: Spending on international deals hits record high of £7.6bn in 2023

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Enzo Fernandez playing for Chelsea
Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez joined Chelsea from Benfica in the January 2023 window for £107m – a British record transfer fee

A record £7.6bn was spent on international transfers by clubs globally in 2023, according to a report by Fifa.

It marks an increase of 48.1% from 2022 and breaks the previous record, set in 2019, by £1.6bn.

English clubs spent the most, with a new high of £2.3bn across the January and summer windows last year.

The world governing body’s report only looks at cross-border transfers, not moves within a country.

Global spending fell in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic but bounced back last year, with Germany receiving the most in transfer fees with a total of £950m, closely followed by France (£940m), England (£820m) and Italy (£810m).

When it came to international spending, Saudi Arabian clubs were second on the list (£765m) with Neymar, Allan Saint-Maximin and Jordan Henderson all among the players to move on lucrative contracts.

The top 10 player transfers generated more than 10% of the entire amount spent on transfer fees in 2023.

Those transfers included Jude Bellingham’s move from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid (£88.5m), Enzo Fernandez’s switch from Benfica to Chelsea (£107m) and Rasmus Hojlund’s transfer from Atalanta to Manchester United (£72m).

An English team was the buying club in six of those top-10 deals.

There was also a more than 20% increase in the number of women’s international transfers compared to 2022 – 1,888 compared to 1,571 – and a record annual outlay of £4.8m.

The biggest international transfers in women’s football included Jill Roord from Wolfsburg to Manchester City (in excess of £300,000), Kyra Cooney-Cross from Hammarby to Arsenal (in excess of £140,000) and Lindsey Horan from Portland Thorns to Olympique Lyonnais (£214,000).

The past three transfers windows – January 2023 and the summers of 2022 and 2023 – have each set new Premier League spending records but the 2024 January transfer window has seen a drop in spending.

Transfer deadline day is this Thursday but just 13 players have been signed by Premier League clubs, with eight permanent transfers and five loan deals, while disclosed fees amount to £45.4m.

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