Silly season is especially silly this year with big name signings flying fast and thick; Cavani, Falcao, and Neymar were just the icing on the cake with over 20 players worth €20m or more changing hands already this summer. Even Major League Soccer got in on the action bringing American superstar Clint Dempsey home to the States for a (large for the MLS) fee of £6m.
So it seems like activity in the 2013-14 window has been particularly intense compared to previous summers. Is this true? And if so who has done the most spending?
There are still a good 20 or so days to go in the window but one league is already a clear standout for ‘Spender of the Year’.
Hey Big Spender
Chairmen in the EPL have clearly gotten their new checkbooks in and are not afraid to use them. Spending activity in the EPL is also more evenly distributed, with all clubs (except for Arsenal) having a net spend so far this summer. Contrast that with Ligue 1 and you can see that the vast majority of the spending was done by PSG and Monaco (for once the headline count was actually proportional to the activity).
You can see the drastic distribution difference in spending in the different standard deviations between leagues. I have also removed the top 2 spenders from each league to show how much of an impact PSG and Monaco have on Ligue 1 statistics.
But back to our original question, has this window been more active than previous ones? To compare let’s look at a few metrics: players in/out, gross expenditure and the average buying and selling prices per player.
Quality not quantity?
Player movement is down quite a bit with the numbers of players in decreasing by 403 (-71%) and players out down by 258 (-54%). Again there are still several weeks left in the window and there is always a burst of late activity but the trend looks like a decrease from previous seasons. A metric that seems right in line with the past several years is the league net spend:
€332m has been spent so far this summer on a much smaller number of net players which would suggest a certain outcome for the average buy/sell price of players…
While the number of players moving is down the average price spent for them is higher. At the lowest €1.06m was spent per player into the league in 2011-12, so far this summer €2.58m per player has been spent. Players are also moving out of the league for less money with an EPL player costing an average of €410k to move on, down from €980k in 2009-10. In comparison to last year the increase/decrease is smaller but still as dramatic with average buying price increasing by €1.21m (+88%) and average selling price decreasing by €350k (-46%).
It is tempting to interpret this data as proof that Premier League clubs are drastically increasing squad quality by importing proven talent (higher avg prices) and selling fewer high quality players (less league exits, lower selling prices). And that maybe the case, but keep in mind stats may change after the burst of late August activity especially as more free transfers move.
I will post an update of these stats after the window closes and numbers are more comparable.