Big-spending Saudis contribute £700million to record £6 billion transfer total
Premier League teams were found to have spent £1.6bn on overseas deals this summer.
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 attacker, 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.
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.