One of the quietest transfer windows in the history of the English Premier League significantly impacted all of Europe’s winter transfer period, with the Financial Fair Play regulations and anticipation for an incredibly busy summer transfer window looming large in the background. But what transpired across the continent’s football leagues this winter, and what can we expect come summer? Let's delve into it.
Football transfer guru Fabrizio Romano raises the question in a YouTube video summarizing this January: Why was this year's winter transfer period so quiet?
What does "quiet" actually mean in this context? Comparing the 2022/23 winter transfer season to the current one, we see that spending by teams in Europe's ”Big Five” leagues dropped by nearly 50%, from €1.11 billion to €597 million. English Premier League (EPL) clubs alone spent over €700 million less than last year, with only 17 permanent transfer deals being made in the EPL this winter.
One of the key reasons behind this phenomenon is the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. While clubs in Italy or Spain have historically grappled with the complexities of FFP compliance, the heightened scrutiny and enforcement of the Profitability and Sustainability Regulations (PSR) in England are newly felt in Premier League transfer activity. However, this development is not entirely unexpected.
The Premier League, in particular, have been vigilant in enforcing these regulations, recently charging Everton FC and Nottingham Forest FC with breaching financial rules. In the case of Everton, this was already their second charge in just a year as the “Toffees” first case had already led to a 10-point deduction for PSR breaches. Notably, reigning champions Manchester City were also handed a charge sheet containing 115 breaches related to the period between 2009 and 2018. However, their case remains unresolved, and the club still awaits a verdict.
These factors might have contributed to the surprising turn of events where, in this year's winter transfer window, it wasn't Premier League but Ligue 1 clubs that splashed the most cash on transfers, nearly €200 million in total. Paris Saint-Germain secured two young talents from Brazil (Lucas Beraldo and Gabriel Moscardo) for €20 million each, while Olympique Marseille compensated for Renan Lodi's departure to Saudi Arabia by acquiring talented left-back Quentin Merlin. However, the bulk of the spending came from Olympique Lyon, who in their bid to avoid relegation, shelled out over €55 million on new signings.
Nearly half of all transfer fees spent in the entire LaLiga winter transfer window can be attributed to a single transfer: FC Barcelona acquired the 18-year-old Brazilian wonderkid, Vitor Roque, for €40 million. With this one move, Barcelona have emerged as the third-highest spending club in this year's winter transfer season, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyon.
After scrutinizing the outflows, let's delve into the dynamics of transfer income across European football leagues.
We should start by stating that this period didn't witness remarkable growth in transfer income compared to the previous winter window. Despite Ligue 1 emerging as the highest spender on aggregate, its transfer income saw a steep decline of nearly 50% compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. The Premier League experienced a significant drop of almost €80 million in transfer income, while the Bundesliga saw a decrease of approximately €60 million. LaLiga, on the other hand, managed to maintain its transfer income at nearly the same level as in the winter transfer window of 2022/23. The Serie A stood out as the only league to record an increase in transfer income, largely thanks to Hellas Verona, which raked in €45 million from player sales. Additionally, the €25 million transfer of Radu Dragusin from Genoa to Tottenham also contributed significantly to this surge in transfer income.
It's unsurprising, therefore, that Serie A leads the rankings among European leagues as the one with the highest transfer income this winter transfer window, followed by Ligue 1 and the Belgian Pro League. Interestingly, the English Championship is just above the Premier League in this particular ranking.
Among clubs, Hellas Verona, KAA Gent and Galatasaray occupy the top three positions for generating the most income from player sales. Verona sold several key players to bolster their finances, while KAA Gent ascended to second place on the list by selling two young talents—Malick Fofana and Gift Orban—to Olympique Lyon. Galatasaray secured the third position by selling only one player—talented French right-back Sacha Boey to Bayern München.
Considering all these aspects, one question looms large: after such a quiet transfer window, should we brace ourselves for a busy summer ahead?
According to popular transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, the football world will witness a "crazy summer" and a frenzy of big-name transfers. Among the headline stories is the uncertainty surrounding Kylian Mbappé's future, keeping Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain fans on the edge of their seats as they await news of his potential move. Additionally, the domino effect of striker transfers is poised to shake up the market, with Victor Osimhen's anticipated departure from Napoli sparking interest from clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea in search of attacking reinforcements.
The summer transfer window also holds the potential for seismic shifts among Premier League giants. Speculation swirls around Manchester United in light of the incoming new ownership, prompting questions of a potential revolution in their squad composition. Meanwhile, Liverpool's appointment of a new manager adds an extra layer of intrigue, fuelling speculation about the club's transfer targets and possible signings. What will or can FC Barcelona do in the market considering their financial difficulties? With clubs eagerly anticipating the influx of fresh funds into European football, potentially from the Saudi league, and with so many variables at play, football fans worldwide can expect drama in the upcoming transfer window.
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