England: Transfer spending down after early close to summer window

It's still too early to tell what impact the English Premier League's decision to close the summer transfer window on the eve of the new season will have on the European market as a whole, but it resulted in a cut in spending by EPL teams by more than 10 percent.

Clubs spent $1.5 billion on players in the summer window, down from the $1.8 billion spent a year earlier. Almost half the decrease is attributable to a drop of spending by $128 million on Thursday, the final day of activity, as compared to Aug. 31, 2017.

The move to shut down the transfer market before the start of the season was intended to allow clubs to begin the season with the rosters they will have through the fall and avoid the distractions of continued transfer activity for the first two of three weeks of the season. If FIFA gets its wish, every league will end its primary transfer activity at the start of the season.

All transfer windows aren't the same across the rest of Europe. Italy's transfer window will also close early, while those in the other major leagues in France, Germany and Spain remain open until the end of August. Players can depart EPL clubs on transfers until then; they just can't be acquired by EPL clubs. Free agents as of Thursday can still be signed.

A big drop in the number of player leaving the EPL at the end of the comparable summer windows suggested that foreign teams may have been waiting for the English window to fall so they can close deals without competition from richer clubs in England.

Some of the highlights of the EPL's summer market:

-- Twice the world record for a transfer fee for a goalkeeper was broken: first, Brazilian Alisson who went from Roma to Liverpool for $71.6 million, then young Spaniard Kepa Arrizabalaga, signed by Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao for $91.7 million in the biggest move of the summer in England.

-- Tottenham became the first EPL club not to sign a player during the summer since the transfer window system was introduced for the 2002-03 season. (Before then, teams could buy and sell players until March 31 each season.)

-- Owned by American Shahid Khan, Fulham spent more than $128 million, more than any other promoted EPL team has ever spent in a single window.

-- Of the 122 signings, just five players came from leagues outside of Europe -- one each from Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia and South Africa -- underscoring the concentration of soccer talent in Europe and the difficulty MLS clubs will have if they want to become exporters of talent.
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