A record sum of almost £6billion was spent on international transfer deals this summer, with Saudi clubs’ spending topping £700million.
The outlay by clubs in the Pro League was second only to the Premier League, whose teams spent just under £1.6bn on overseas deals alone, according to FIFA’s International Transfer Snapshot which was published on Friday.
In total, 7.36bn US dollars (£5.89bn) was spent globally in the summer window, while agents’ fees for 2023 are already at a record annual high – 696.6m US dollars or £558m.
The spending on deals in 2023 is a 47 per cent increase on the same period last year, and 26.8 per cent up on the previous mid-year record set in 2019.
Saudi clubs spent £701m on transfers according to FIFA, with Al Hilal’s signing of Neymar for a reported £77m from Paris St Germain the biggest single deal involving a Pro League club.
The spending figure could have been much higher. Al Hilal also bid a world-record £259m for PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, but the player refused to enter talks.
Al Ittihad, meanwhile, had a bid of £150m rejected for Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah.
Saudi clubs’ spending on international deals was just ahead of France (£688.8m) and Germany (£610.8m). They also spent more than double the amount laid out by clubs in Spain, where the total was £324.9m.
Saudi spending meant that for the first time, a confederation other than UEFA contributed more than 10 per cent of the total summer spend, with the Asian Football Confederation’s figure at 14 per cent.
As part of today’s announcement of the Sports Clubs Investment and Privatization Project, four Saudi clubs – Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr, and Al Hilal – have been transformed into companies, each of which is owned by #PIF and non-profit foundations for each club. pic.twitter.com/TNZcbIniUE
— Public Investment Fund (@PIF_en) June 5, 2023
Four Saudi clubs – Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, Al Nassr and Al Ahli – have been majority-owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) since June. The fund has assets under management estimated at a value of around £476bn.
Germany topped the list for money earned from international transfers at 1.11bn US dollars (£889m) – the first time a single country has earned more than one billion dollars from summer deals.
The FIFA report also identified an increase in the number of international deals in the women’s game for a sixth successive year. There were a record 829 transfers in the mid-year period including a record 66 which involved fees.