Paris – The English Premier League's standing as the world's richest sporting competition remains intact after the transfer window closed late on Monday night.
The 20 Premier League clubs between them shelled out a massive total of £630 million on players, almost as much as the Spanish and Italian top-flight clubs put together.
Financial analysts Deloitte point out that that figure is £130m more than a year ago, an increase of 29 percent, fuelled largely by a massive increase in TV funding.
Spanish clubs, led by Real Madrid's reported £85 million capture of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur and the £48 mllion Brazilian Neymar is said to have cost Barcelona, paid a total of £335 million in fees, a staggering 205 percent more than 2012.
That figure was matched by Italian Serie A clubs, but it represented an increase of only eight per cent year on year, with the key deal seeing Napoli part with £31 million for Real Madrid's Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain.
This year, that total was almost rivalled by the French league, where massive injections of foreign cash into Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, saw an outlay of £315 million, up 66 percent on 2012.
PSG led the way, paying Napoli £54 million for Uruguayan Edinson Cavani and a further £26 million to Roma for Brazilian Marquinhos, while Monaco landed Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid for £50 million and made a double £59 million swoop on Porto for James Rodriquez and Joao Moutinho.
But at a time when the pressure is on clubs to toe the line drawn by Uefa's financial fairness code, Germany's Bundesliga again proved an appropriate role model.
Clubs have long learned to limit their outgoings and this year they were the lowest spenders in the window, parting with £230 million which was, nevertheless a 10 percent increase on the year before.
The biggest-money deals saw European champions Bayern Munich land Mario Gotze from rivals Dortmund for £31 million, while Dortmund re-invested that in Henrich Mikhtaryan from Shakhtar Donetsk and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Saint-Eitienne.
In England, £230 million of the total was paid by the four Champions League representatives – Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Of those, Manchester City got their deals done early, with a trio of £20 million-plus signings in Fernandinho from Shakhtar, Alvaro Nefgredo from Sevilla and Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina, while Chelsea's outlay was headed by the £32 million capture of Willian.
But Arsenal and United both left it late, doing their most significant deals on the final day, with Mesut Ozil joining Arsenal from Real Madrid for £42.5 million and Marouane Fellaini joining United from Everton for £27.5 million.
But significantly, of the window's net £400 million spent by Premier League clubs, only £30 million was for domestic transfers, with the vast majority, £370 million going to overseas clubs. – Sapa-AFP