This summer was an interesting one with EURO 2020 played all over Europe, a lot of talk about the “Super League” and the two biggest stars in the game making a surprising move.
This summer transfer window’s numbers suggest that Spanish football has been hit the hardest by COVID-19 and it is clear why their top three clubs were the biggest fans of “Super League”. However, there was an attempt at the end of the window from Real Madrid to sign PSG star Kylian Mbappé with a large transfer fee mooted. Through this data analysis, we will see how leagues compare based on the amount of money they spent in this transfer window and also their transfer tendencies based on the types of transfers that clubs made.
In this section, we will analyse the leagues based on graphs which will be supported with interesting numbers and comparisons with the previous summer window to see the difference. Premier League clubs spent the most, just like the previous summer window. Premier League marketing and financial background, with huge TV rights money, give them the edge over the other leagues in terms of budgets, especially with the COVID-19 situation which means the gap between them and the rest is even bigger. There are two graphs below which show us expenditure and income by the league and average fee spent and earned per player move in this transfer window.
Premier League clubs spent over two times more than the second-biggest spenders: Serie A. EPL clubs spent around €1.35bn, while Serie A teams spent €580m; however, that is around €200m less than last summer for Serie A teams. The average fee for a player bought by an EPL club is €26.05m, which is €19m more than the other four leagues which are spending, on average, €7m for a player. Bundesliga is the only league that had a profit in this window. They earned €35m more than they spent. La Liga clubs spent just €300m, which is the lowest of these five leagues and indicates a bad financial situation amongst Spanish clubs.
The next two graphs will show us the number of arrivals combined with U23 players signed, and free transfer with loan arrivals.
We can see that the busiest league was Serie A with 212 arrivals, 69 of them being U23 players, which is almost the same number of arrivals and U23 players signed as the previous summer. Italy is known for a lot of loans, so their number of loans was 72, which is 9 fewer loans than last summer. It’s part of their transfer culture that big clubs possess many players who are then loaned to weaker clubs to develop, with transfer options for both sides.
La Liga clubs, once again, mostly looked for free transfers and they had 48 of them. A side effect of that tendency is that they signed the smallest number of U23 players – only 29. EPL clubs made the fewest loans and free transfers, which was written between the lines when analysing previous graphs on spending.
Ligue 1 clubs signed 53 U23 players while Bundesliga clubs brought in 64. Ligue 1 and Bundesliga clubs have focused on young talents in transfer windows in recent years, which is why not so highly-regarded clubs from those leagues have been on the rise over the last couple of years.
It is common for teams with a higher reputation who play in European competitions to spend more than the others. The next graph will show us the expenditure and income of each club.
Arsenal spent the most in this transfer window, followed by the Manchester clubs, Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Aston Villa. Inter Milan and Aston Villa had the highest income this summer, though Inter had financial issues and they sold highly-regarded duo Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, earning €175m on them.
Aston Villa sold their biggest star, Jack Grealish, to Manchester City for a record transfer fee for an English player—€117.5m. Amongst the promoted teams, Norwich City spent the most—€66mil—but they sold Emi Buendía to Aston Villa for €38.4m, which allowed them to spend more than the other promoted teams. It is clear clubs that play in European competitions, and EPL clubs, have higher budgets and they spend more money than the others. The surprising spenders this summer are Roma and Stade Rennais, with both teams looking to compete for Champions League spots.
Norwich, Brentford and Watford are the three biggest spenders amongst the promoted teams and it isn’t surprising since they are playing in the EPL. Brentford spent €9.55m on average per player, not counting free agents and loans. Serie A teams tried to get a lot of players on loan in an attempt to retain their status in the top tier. Salernitana is the team that brought most players this window—24, by spending only €3.3m. German promoted teams VfL Bochum and SpVgg Greuther Fürth spent the lowest amount compared to the other teams.
The last graph we will analyze in this section is the number of arrivals and spending per position. There were 571 arrivals in the top five leagues this window, 325 of them were bought, 193 of them came on loan and 207 players came on a free transfer. Separating arrivals by position there were: 66 goalkeepers, 179 defenders, 169 midfielders and 137 forwards. We can see that there was the biggest demand for defenders, unlike last summer, where there were more than 200 forwards bought. The highest amount of money was spent on midfielders—around €1.02bn.
EPL clubs spent most on midfielders—€489m on 29 midfielders—while Serie A clubs spent €179.3m. on 43 midfielders. Serie A clubs signed the most defenders(48) and spent the highest amount on defenders (€201.1m). Bundesliga and Serie A teams spent the most on defenders, while La Liga teams spent the most on forwards. EPL clubs bought 20 forwards for €390m which is three times more than La Liga clubs who bought 8 forwards more. To conclude this section, EPL clubs spent more money than any league on each position which occurred last summer as well. In the next sections, we will make evaluations on each league and take a more detailed look at the data.
France – Ligue 1
The first league we will look at is French Ligue 1. PSG absolutely bossed this transfer window by signing multiple stars and most of them arrived for no fee since they were out of contract.
PSG bought only 2 players for a fee—Hakimi for €60m and Danilo Pereira for €16m—however, they were still the biggest spenders this summer. Nuno Mendes’ loan cost them €8m, which circles their spending. Their transfer window reminds us of Football Manager saves, they managed to get Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum and Lionel Messi without spending a penny on a transfer fee. Reigning champions LOSC Lille made a profit this transfer window after selling Boubakary Soumaré to Leicester City and Mike Maignan to AC Milan while only spending €13m on two players. Stade Rennais, Olympique Marseille, OGC Nice and AS Monaco each spent more than €30m which indicates their intent to fight with Lille, PSG and Lyon for Champions League spots.
On this graph, we can see that Troyes was the most active club, with 17 new players. They brought experienced proven players like Adil Rami but also young talented players like 18-year-old Metinho, 21-year-old Giulian Biancone and 20-year-old Yasser Larouci. We can see that Clermont Foot, Metz, SCO Angers and AS Saint-Étienne only brought players on a free transfer or on loan without buying anyone. Stade Rennais did amazing things this transfer window, they sold Eduardo Camavinga to Real Madrid for €31m and spent that money on areas where they needed improvement. Kamaldeen Sulemana was brought for €15m and Croatian playmaker Lovro Majer came from Dinamo Zagreb for €12m, who are two top talents that could develop into big players.
The team that did the best business in France is PSG, they brought players who give them the chance to win everything. Getting the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, to play alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappé is mean business. Olympique Marseille surprised us the most with the amount of money they spent in an attempt to fight for top spots on the table, the best two signings for them were Gerson and Arkadiusz Milik. Lyon could be the loser of the window, by losing a lot of quality players who were not replaced. It will be hard for them to replace Memphis Depay and it is very bad business to lose him on a free transfer after his contract expired.
Germany – Bundesliga
Bundesliga clubs spent €420m in this summer transfer window. Bayern didn’t spend the most, with RB Leipzig spending €107.6m. However, Bayern’s two arrivals came from RB Leipzig; they bought Marcel Sabitzer and Dayot Upamecano, both being key players in their previous team. The graph below will show us the expenditure and income of the Bundesliga clubs.
We can see that only five teams spent more than €40m on signings: RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen. RB Leipzig sold three key players—Upamecano and Sabitzer, as already mentioned, while they also sold Ibrahima Konaté to Liverpool, allowing them to splash the cash on new signings.
They brought top talents in likes of Joško Gvardiol (Dinamo Zagreb), Mohamed Simakan (Strasbourg), Ilaix Moriba (Barcelona) and Brian Brobbey on a free transfer from Ajax, which is a fantastic piece of business. They also tied down left wing-back Angeliño permanently and signed André Silva who performed fantastically last season at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Wolfsburg surprisingly spent €52.5m and they brought mostly young players who could develop into quality players in the future. Borussia Dortmund had the biggest outgoing transfer with Jadon Sancho leaving for €85m to Manchester United. Sancho move was a never-ending rumour for the last two years and it was finally executed. Borussia Mönchengladbach and TSG Hoffenheim were unexpectedly quiet this transfer window.
Union Berlin qualified for the Europa Conference League which motivated them to bring a lot of players to increase their roster. They brought 17 players, which is the highest among Bundesliga clubs this transfer window. TSG Hoffenheim, Köln and VfL Bochum didn’t buy any players and they only got players on a free transfer or on loan. Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig spent on 6 and 7 players, respectively, and they both brought only 1 player on loan or on a free transfer.
If we look at this from the financial and scouting side, the best business this summer was done by RB Leipzig. They signed 8 players who can develop into top players and they also made a slight profit in this transfer window. However, from the competitive side, they lost their key players who went to a league rival in Bayern Munich, which strengthened them.
A team that surprised is Wolfsburg because they bought a lot of players and spent a solid amount of cash meaning they will push even more this season to continue their rise. The losers of this transfer window are Borussia Mönchengladbach. They finished 8th last season while competing in the Champions League and it was clear that they need to increase the quality of their roster, especially because there were only 2-3 players outside the starting XI who could compete for starting spots.
Italy – Serie A
Inter Milan managed to stop Juventus from winning Serie A once again. Unfortunately, Inter Milan faced financial issues and their Chinese owners had to sell players which weakened the squad this summer. We saw Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi leave the club along with head coach Antonio Conte who wanted to strengthen the squad and make an attempt to win the Champions League, but the financial situation of the club was inevitable. There wasn’t big arrival this summer, but Serie A lost a lot of stars with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gianluigi Donnarumma leaving along with already mentioned Lukaku and Hakimi.
We mentioned Inter Milan’s situation and it is clear on the graph that they were in “selling mode” with almost €200m income while spending only €36m.
Roma surprised everyone with their transfer window and it is a sign that José Mourinho has arrived in the capital city of Italy. Roma bought two tall centre-forwards: Tammy Abraham from Chelsea for €40m and Eldor Shomurodov from Genoa for €17.5m They also managed to sign Portuguese #1 goalkeeper – Rui Patrício for €11.5m from Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Milan and Atalanta had a very good transfer window with both teams signing multiple quality players at a reasonable price. We would like to highlight Atalanta signing Teun Koopmeiners from AZ Alkmaar for just €12m, which is one of the transfer window steals. We can see that Juventus, Napoli and Inter Milan are amongst the rest of the league when it comes to spending and this year it looks like Milan, Roma and Atalanta were more determined on strengthening the squad by spending.
Serie A is known for a lot of loans, especially with weaker teams being willing to take younger players from stronger teams, giving them a chance to develop. Salernitana got promoted this season and they brought 21 players on loan or free transfer while buying 3 players. The biggest name that arrived in Salernitana is Franck Ribéry, who at age 38, could be a valuable part of the dressing room for a team coming into a top tier. Spezia surprisingly bought 12 players which is the league’s highest. Nine of those players are U23, which shows the club direction for the future. Unlike Ligue 1 and Bundesliga clubs, all Serie A clubs bought at least one player (Napoli only one and others at least three).
Serie A clubs spent €520m in total which is a decline of around €200m compared to the last transfer window. The Serie A club that did the best business this window is probably Roma because they strengthened weak areas and getting Tammy Abraham was top business.
Milan once again had a strong transfer window. Spezia is surely the team that surprised the most this window, they spent a lot and it will be interesting to see their progress and potential growth of young signings. However, last season Parma did the same by bringing a lot of young players and they got relegated. It feels like the loser of this transfer window is Udinese because even though they signed new players, it is tough to replace a player like Rodrigo de Paul, who was a centrepiece of the Udinese team, while also losing Juan Musso and Antonín Barák.
England – Premier League
Once again, the Premier League clubs dominated in the transfer window by spending like Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga clubs combined. Last summer, Chelsea made a lot of quality transfers which resulted in them winning the Champions League but this summer, they brought Romelu Lukaku for his second spell at the club. They also managed to get Saúl Ñíguez on a season-long loan.
Surprisingly, Arsenal spent the most and it is clear that they wanted to strengthen in all the areas where they lack competition and quality. There were a lot of doubts about their transfers because they signed Ben White for €58.5m and Aaron Ramsdale for €28m, which is a large amount of money.
It is interesting to see Aston Villa spending €100m, but losing their star player, Jack Grealish, who left for Manchester City. They replaced Grealish with Emi Buendía from Norwich while also getting Leon Bailey from Bayer Leverkusen and Danny Ings from Southampton. Manchester United managed to sign their long-wanted wish Jadon Sancho, but surprisingly they brought back fan-favourite Cristiano Ronaldo, who was unhappy at Juventus and decided to push for a move to Manchester. Not to forget, Manchester United strengthened the defence with Raphaël Varane, who arrived from Real Madrid for €40m. Newcastle United, Brentford, Leeds United and Crystal Palace only spent money on players without selling a player for a transfer fee.
Promoted teams Norwich City and Watford signed the most players this window. Norwich City signed a mix of talented young players and experienced first-tier players in an attempt to retain Premier League status. Liverpool surprisingly signed only one player – Ibrahima Konaté from RB Leipzig for €40m. Konaté will provide them much-needed depth on centre-back position which was a big problem for them last season due to injuries. Newcastle United signed only Joe Willock who had a successful loan spell for them last season. West Ham strengthened their team by signing Kurt Zouma from Chelsea for €35m and Nikola Vlašić from CSKA Moscow for €30m.
Manchester United did the best business this window but it puts a lot of pressure on the team that needs to win a trophy this season since they signed proven quality players. Arsenal had the most surprising transfer window and it is because we didn’t expect them to spend the largest amount of money in the league. Arsenal signed multiple talented players who are yet to reach their peak and all showed certain quality in their previous clubs. The loser of this window is Newcastle United. They didn’t strengthen their team enough which could put them in a tough situation this season. Praise is due for West Ham United and Leicester City for their quality transfer window as well. Manchester City did a fantastic job by signing Jack Grealish, who is set to dominate the league with his impressive performances.
Spain – La Liga
Spanish football is in a big downfall when it comes to the last two transfer windows. They lost a lot of stars and now, with Lionel Messi gone, they lost a lot of popularity which will lead to them losing TV viewers and marketing revenue. Apart from Messi leaving, Real Madrid lost their captain, Sergio Ramos, who was at the club for more than a decade.
It is hard to remember a time when Barcelona and Real Madrid had bigger income than expenditure. Both clubs always had a plan to replace sold players in the past but this transfer window looks like they improvised through the whole summer. Only Atlético Madrid, Villarreal and Sevilla had bigger expenditures than income and it isn’t surprising, since those teams are on the rise with Atlético Madrid winning La Liga while Villarreal won the Europa League.
Sevilla is known for its strong transfer policy and once again, they signed players like Gonzalo Montiel and Thomas Delaney for a reasonable price. Montiel was a top right-back in South America and it was a matter of time when he will make a move to Europe. Just by looking at a graph, we can see that 16 clubs spent less than €20m, which shows a financial state in the league.
We can see that teams relied a lot on free transfers and loans. They made 48 free transfers (tied-first with Serie A) and 43 loans (second amongst the leagues). Athletic Bilbao only signed one player and it was Álex Petxa from Real Sociedad for free. Rayo Vallecano signed 11 players, with Radamel Falcao standing out as a top signing for the club—even at the age of 35.
The club that did the best business this summer is Atlético Madrid. They signed Rodrigo de Paul and Matheus Cunha on permanent deals while bringing Antoine Griezmann back on loan from Barcelona.
The team that surprised me the most is Villarreal because they strengthened the team while managing to keep all the crucial players in the club. Barcelona is a clear loser of this transfer window. Their previous board made a mess that couldn’t be resolved which put them in a situation where they couldn’t extend a contract for club icon Lionel Messi. However, the shift was inevitable and they have a lot of young players who will be a foundation for a new Barcelona.
This transfer window was full of excitement with multiple stars changing clubs. Based on this analysis we can conclude that Premier League clubs dominated the market and brought a lot of top players into the league. PSG did incredible business this summer and they signed multiple world-class players who could be decisive for their ultimate goal which is winning the Champions League. La Liga has an obvious problem and they need to create new stars this season because they lost their shiniest ones.