PARIS (AFP): Beyond the lavish spending of the Premier League, there were few big-money deals and Paris Saint-Germain’s attempts to offload unwanted members of their squad animated the final day of the transfer window in Europe on Thursday.
Clubs on the continent have once again been far more frugal than their English counterparts over the summer, and instances of continental giants splashing huge sums in the final hours before the window closes are rare, in contrast to the spending habits of the Premier League.
According to specialist site Transfermarkt, gross spending by teams in England’s top flight had passed €2.2 billion (£1.9 billion, $2.2 billion) by the time the transfer window there closed.
The difference compared to Europe’s other leading leagues is striking.
While the Premier League’s net spend topped €1.3 billion, clubs in Italy, Germany and France have all made a combined profit from transfers. Spain’s net spend sat at almost €65 million euros.
Few clubs in Europe can compete with the economic might of the Premier League, and few clubs on the continent can match PSG’s spending power.
The Qatar-owned club committed huge sums even before the window opened to persuade Kylian Mbappe to sign a new contract rather than move to Real Madrid.
They have since spent over €100 million in fees on new signings, including Spain midfielder Fabian Ruiz from Napoli, not to mention making Nuno Mendes’s loan from Sporting Lisbon permanent and signing Reims striker Hugo Ekitike on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season for a reported 36 million euros.
Just before the deadline on Thursday they added Spanish international midfielder Carlos Soler from Valencia, with the fee reaching €20 million with bonuses, according to reports in Spain.
“It’s a new adventure in my career. I feel very proud and I’m looking forward to starting work with my teammates, to meeting them, and giving everything for this shirt,” Soler told PSG’s official website.
However, PSG’s attempts to sign Slovakia defender Milan Skriniar from Inter Milan fell through.
Instead the Ligue 1 side were busy offloading several outcasts, with Senegal midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye returning to former club Everton while Julian Draxler (Benfica), Abdou Diallo (RB Leipzig) and Layvin Kurzawa (Fulham) all departed on loan.
All were once big-money buys but PSG needed to reduce their wage bill to try to respect UEFA’s financial sustainability regulations, even if these are less stringent than the old Financial Fair Play rules.
Spain’s giants are rarely major actors on transfer deadline day and Barcelona were busier moving squad players on after a summer dominated by big spending.
The Catalans spent around €150 million on transfer fees to sign Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Raphinha (Leeds United) and Jules Kounde (Sevilla), and also recruited free agents Franck Kessie from AC Milan and Andreas Christensen from Chelsea.
But, crippled by enormous debts and restrained by La Liga’s financial controls, they were then forced to sell off assets — including 25 percent of their domestic television rights for quarter of a century — to raise funds just to be allowed to register their new signings.
On Thursday they appeared set to sell Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea, while out-of-favor forward Martin Braithwaite’s contract was terminated and full-back Sergino Dest was loaned to AC Milan.
Hector Bellerin did however return to Barcelona, his hometown club, after Arsenal agreed to terminate the Spanish right-back’s contract.
Madrid, who committed 100 million euros to sign France midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco in June, have stayed quiet since selling Casemiro to Manchester United for £60 million in August.
The window closed earlier Thursday in Italy and Germany with few notable moves on deadline day.
Juventus midfielder Denis Zakaria was in talks to join Chelsea on loan, following the rush to the Premier League.
Bayern Munich have unsurprisingly been Germany’s biggest spenders, notably adding Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus for 67 million euros, although they also sold Lewandowski to Barcelona among others.
Having already sold Erling Haaland to Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund allowed Manuel Akanji to make the same move for a reported €17.5 million euros on deadline day.