Saudi Arabia went shopping for European football and in 2023 it invested US$970 million

Saudi Arabia went shopping for European football and in 2023 it invested US$970 million

With their trends, bullish or bearish depending on the moment, international transfer windows used to have a stable development and a favorite destination: the Premier League.

However, In 2023 Saudi Arabia appeared and put US$970 million on the board. 10% of the total spent by the clubs on this type of transfers, according to data from the report FIFA Global Transfer Report 2023.

And Saudi money had a preferred partner: the Premier League. It brought in US$329.9 million for English football, a third of the total. And that, for the richest league in the world and already accustomed to leading spending on transfers, meant a bonus from which many other European leagues benefited and generated a record investment of US$9.63 billion in the transfer market between countries.

The three main beneficiaries were the Bundesliga (Germany), Serie A (Italy) and Ligue-1 (France). These three were also the largest transfer money flows between countries; the fourth was the aforementioned Saudi Arabia-England; and fifth, the investment of English football in clubs Netherlands. This speaks clearly of the preponderance of the Premier and its control over the development of the transfer market.

The clubs of the British Isles spent US$2,956.6 million to sign 681 footballers from other countries, that is, 31% of the total.

Of the top-20 clubs with the highest spending in the report, half are from the Premier. Of the top-10 most expensive signings (among clubs from different countries), six went to English teams, and two of them (Enzo Fernández and Mykhailo Mudryk) to Chelsea . Of course, the most expensive country, According to FIFA, it was Jude Bellingham’s move to Real Madrid.

The other question is how the money was moved. In what amount and for how many players. There, the English profit is multiplied. Saudi Arabia paid the aforementioned US$330 million on 18 players. With that money, and the rest contributed from its cash, English football acquired 157 footballers from other major leagues such as the Italian (35 players), the German (39), the French (52) and the Dutch (31). In these four countries it invested US$1,786.7 million. The division leaves an expense per player of US$11.3 million. The Saudis paid $18.3 million on average for each Premier League player. And this led to other movements. France, which in other years led the table of transfer flows (linked to the money invested), fell to the third step, surpassed by Germany, with US$571.2 million coming from England, and Italy, which brought in US$465.8 million. of the same destiny.

In fact, among the ten most expensive transfers in the last year are three German clubs (Borussia Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig, this one twice) and two Italian clubs (Atalanta and Milan). PSG appears in the top-10 both in sales, with the departure of Neymar to the Saudi Al-Hilal, and in purchases, due to the signing of Randal Kolo Muani. Benfica sold Enzo Fernández to Chelsea for more than 100 million euros, and in 2023 the Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk appears as a novelty for the signing, also for the blues, of Mudryk.

Other transfer flows, in this case due to the number of passes exchanged, are the historic air bridge between Brazil and Portugal, with the South Americans contributing 414 players from their league to Portuguese football, and the neighboring country exporting up to 188 footballers to its preferred partner, the second highest figure.

Source: Ambito

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