Soccer’s international transfer market continued to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic with a record 20,000 deals between clubs from different countries last year, FIFA said Thursday.
Total spending worldwide was $6.5 billion in transfer fees for players who moved across borders between FIFA member federations — an increase of 33.5% from 2021, according to FIFA’s annual review of the transfers it processed.
“While this figure is still below the levels of 2018 and 2019, clubs are clearly recovering,” FIFA said in a 75-page report.
The biggest deals in the report included Erling Haaland to Manchester City, Antony and Casemiro to Manchester United, Aurélien Tchouaméni to Real Madrid and Darwin Núñez to Liverpool.
International transfers of male professional players surpass 20,000 for the first time. FIFA has today published the 2022 edition of the Global Transfer Report
👉 https://t.co/AQibvL59CB pic.twitter.com/49EPS92VxM
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) January 26, 2023
The FIFA report, however, does not include domestic deals between two clubs in the same country, like Arsenal buying Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City.
Chelsea’s spending spree on Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella and Raheem Sterling, Tottenham signing Richarlison and Antoine Griezmann’s return to Atlético Madrid from Barcelona are also not included.
International spending included $73 million paid as a share of transfer fees to clubs which previously helped develop a player between the ages of 12 and 23.
FIFA expects hundreds of millions will be rightfully paid each year with the launch last year of its transfer clearing house in Paris to process payments and ensure clubs get what is due.
Although the majority of cross-border deals involved free agent players and no transfer fee, FIFA noted a record 950 clubs spent money on acquiring players.
Brazilian players were again the most traded internationally with 2,061 transfers — more than double the next highest, Argentina — and spending on them totaling $843.2 million.
Portuguese clubs made 901 transfer signings of players, and clubs in Brazil released the most players with 998 outgoing deals. The 338 transfers to Portugal from Brazil was the most common transfer path.
Shakhtar Donetsk had the most outgoing transfers of all European clubs with 51. Next highest was Dinamo Zagreb’s 40.
Shakhtar’s total reflects FIFA’s emergency transfer rules after Russia’s military invasion last February that let players with Ukrainian clubs suspended their contracts and leave on loan deals. Foreign players in Russia could also suspend their contracts.
Shakhtar and a group of Russian clubs failed in legal challenges at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the FIFA rules.