Paris – Manchester United swooped from nowhere on Monday to make striker Radamel Falcao the surprise big signing on the last day of Europe's record-breaking summer transfer window.
British media said the Colombian would move from Monaco in a one year loan that pushes United's spending since the opening of the transfer market on June 9 above £150 million ($250 million).
Teams from the top leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France have laid out more than $2.1 billion during the transfer window and the frenzied last day is likely to see the figure rise substantially.
Manchester United have been the single biggest spenders, ahead of Spain's Real Madrid. Manchester United are buying Daley Blind from Ajax Amsterdam and have also brought in Argentine international Angel di Maria from Real Madrid for £59 million, Spanish international Ander Herrera, England defender Luke Shaw and another Argentine Marcos Rojo.
The arrival of 28-year-old Falcao sparked new moves around United, who have failed to win any of their first three games in the Premier League.
The club's Mexican striker Javier Hernandez went to Real Madrid for a medical ahead of a likely switch to Spain. United's England striker Danny Wellbeck was also tipped to move during the day. Their Japanese striker Shinji Kagawa returned to former club Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.
Manchester City's England defender Micah Richards was in Italy for a medical with Fiorentina, the Italian side said. Chelsea's Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel has gone to AC Milan.
Italy's World Cup striker Alessio Cerci moved from Torino to Atletico Madrid, who have signed 10 players for their campaign to defend the Spanish title.
According to Fifa Transfer Matching System, which monitors the global market, the big five leagues have already smashed the $2.02 billion spent on last year's transfer market.
While spending is dramatically higher in England, Spain and to a lesser degree Germany.
According to Deloitte's sports business group, more than $1.2 billion had been spent by England's 20 Premier League clubs up to Friday. That was already more than $165 million above last year's transfer window and British media said the total figure would pass $1.33 billioin by the end of Monday.
On top of United's big buys, Liverpool have also spent more than $190 million (mainly to buy Mario Balotelli, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren). Chelsea have laid out more than $125 (including for Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa) and Arsenal more than $103 million.
English clubs have spent about $300 million on Spanish players. But, according to Fifa, Spain's current spending is closing on $600 million and already three times higher than last year's pre-season transfer window.
A spending splurge by Real Madrid and Barcelona has accounted for the buying.
Barcelona paid Liverpool more than $125 million for Luis Suarez, while Real Madrid spent a reported $108 million on Monaco's James Rodriguez and more than $35 million on German World Cup midfielder Toni Kroos.
The market has fallen just as dramatically in Italy and France, where the poor economy and Uefa's financial fair play regulations have hit the football business.
Top French sides Paris St Germain and Monaco have spent 75% less this year on new players than in the 2013 transfer window.
Spending by Italian clubs approaching $200 million is 45% down on last year. AC Milan took Chelsea's Fernando Torres in a loan deal on Saturday.