While football stadiums are filling up again in Europe, the economic situation of many clubs, weighed down by the health crisis, remains worrying. The sluggishness of the summer transfer window, which ended Tuesday, August 31 at midnight in the five major championships of the Old Continent (Premier League in England, Bundesliga in Germany, Serie A in Italy, Liga in Spain and Ligue 1 in France), is revealing: many players remain too fragile to recruit.

“There are a lot of sellers, but few buyers”, summarizes Mickael Terrien, lecturer at the Faculty of Sports Sciences at the University of Lille. Even if the soap opera at the end of the summer, namely the negotiations concerning a possible transfer of Kylian Mbappé from PSG to Real Madrid, had not failed, the operation would not have been enough to change the tone of a particularly dull transfer window.

The transfer market, which usually lasts two months in the summer, may have been extended by three weeks in England and France, there has been no recovery. “After a fall of 40% in 2020, we expected a stabilization, but the volume of transactions shows a further decline of 20% this year”, says Raffaele Poli, head of the Football Observatory at the International Center for the Study of Sport (CIES) in Neuchâtel (Switzerland).

The Premier League captures half of the market

Among the five big leagues, the English Premier League, more powerful than ever, is however an exception. “Before the pandemic, it represented a third of the transfer market. Now it’s almost half, even if the English market is also declining ”, Mr Poli continues. Since the start of 2021, the volume of transactions has stood at 1.4 billion euros across the Channel, whereas it had reached two billion in 2020.

Read also Football: English clubs, driving forces of the transfer market

Despite this ebb, demand from English clubs for the best players continues to boost their prices. The three most expensive transfers were those of Englishman Jack Grealish from Aston Villa to Manchester City (€ 117.5m), Belgian Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan to Chelsea (115m) and l ‘Englishman Jadon Sancho from Dortmund to Manchester United (85 million).

The reason ? The renewal for three years, and for an amount of 5.2 billion euros of the television broadcasting rights of the English championship, gave visibility until 2025 to the owners of the clubs, who were able to invest.

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