Big-money moves for Memphis Depay, Julian Draxler and Dimitri Payet combined to take spending by French clubs to a record £150million in the January transfer window.
According to a FIFA Transfer Matching System study of cross-border deals this winter, Europe’s big five leagues accounted for two thirds of the global spend of £683.4million on international moves in January, with France leading the way and England second.
Of the more than 3,000 international transfers, involving 161 countries, only one in seven involved a transfer fee.
French clubs, however, shelled out more in January than they spent last summer, with Paris St Germain investing £56million in German midfielder Draxler and Portuguese winger Goncalo Guedes.
Payet’s contentious move from West Ham to Marseille and Depay’s escape from Manchester United to Lyon added another £36million to the French total and also helped English clubs bring in almost £134m, virtually off-setting the £135million spent in deals such as Wilfred Ndidi to Leicester and Manolo Gabbiadini to Southampton.
English clubs did make more transfers – 146 in and 151 out – than their rivals abroad, although Spanish clubs signed 127 players from abroad, while sending only 65 across the border.
German clubs spent the third highest total in January, with Spain fourth and Italy fifth, with Italian clubs recording a net profit of £38.5million.
The data only deals with cross-border transfers, with England remaining the biggest-spending nation in the window when domestic transfers were included.