More than £38bn ($48.5bn) has been spent on transfer fees worldwide over the past decade – with English clubs leading the list of big spenders.
World governing body Fifa conducted extensive research of transfers that took place between 2011 and 2020.
Manchester City and Chelsea headed the table of biggest-spending sides, two of 12 Premier League clubs in the top 30.
Southampton, 21st in the table overall, spent more than Borussia Dortmund, the report says.
The report marks a decade since Fifa launched its Transfer Matching System.
Fifa introduced the system to record player transfers between clubs, making it mandatory in October 2010.
Over the past decade, there have been far more transfers involving Brazilian players (15,128) – and more money spent on them (£5.14bn/$7.070bn) – than on footballers from any other nation.
Neymar remains the only player to have been sold for more than $200m (currently £145m), according to the report.
There have been 14 deals up to 2020 to have exceeded $100m (currently £72.7m), with Argentina forward Angel di Maria the only player to have been involved in two of them.
New Chelsea signing Romelu Lukaku – bought for a club record fee of £97.5m on 12 August – but will not join Di Maria in being listed twice among the biggest deals, as his transfers to Manchester United and Inter Milan were for less than $100m, according to Fifa.
Overall, English clubs’ net transfer spend of $7.23bn (£5.26bn) was far higher than any other nation, with China $1.46bn (£1.06bn) next.
Agent’s fees top $3.5bn while Man City biggest spenders
Transfer deals provide some of the most widely consumed media stories outside of matches themselves.
Yet the interest centres around a relatively small number of deals. Globally, in 2020, just over 13% of 17,185 transfers were permanent and involved a fee.
Here are some of the most notable aspects of Fifa’s 98-page report.
- A total of $3.5bn was paid to agents in fees over the decade to 2020. During that time, agent participation in deals has risen by 69.1%.
- Manchester City were the biggest-spending club between 2011 and 2020, followed by Chelsea, Barcelona, PSG and Real Madrid.
- Twelve out of the 30 biggest-spending clubs over past decade were English – the ‘big six’ plus Leicester, Southampton, Wolves, Everton, West Ham and Newcastle.
- Benfica received the most in transfer fees, followed by Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.
- Manchester City (232) loaned out the most players. Chelsea (207) were next. Swansea (146) were fifth.
- English clubs spent double ($12.4bn) the amount on incoming transfers compared to the next highest association – Spain ($6.7bn). Wales’ $600m, most likely lifted by Cardiff and Swansea’s spells in the Premier League, put them in 15th – higher than Argentina (19th) and Scotland (25th) among others.
- The most popular transfer route over the decade was from Brazil to Portugal (1,556 deals), followed by England to Scotland (1,239). More players went from England to Wales (846) than Wales to England (701).
- Portuguese clubs made the most overall combined profit from player trading ($2.956bn).
- English clubs made the highest net loss ($7.23bn), from China ($1.46bn). Saudi Arabia were seventh on the list ($481.2m) and Qatar ninth ($278.4m).
- Wrexham were seventh on the list of clubs who completed the most out-of-contract transfers (103). The clubs above them were from Singapore, Armenia, Cyprus and Malta.