Last year, the January transfer window saw Premier League clubs shell out a combined £230 million on new players.
Among the biggest deals of the month, Manchester United’s acquisition of midfielder Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon for £47 million, and Tottenham’s signing of Steven Bergwijn from PSV Eindhoven for £27 million.
Fast forward to the present day, and the landscape is entirely different.
Premier League clubs are only spending a combined total of just £70 million last month.
Just 24 deals were completed across England’s top-tier, with the window largely dominated by loan moves and Free transfers.
The league has recorded its lowest total spend since the Transfer Window in 2012.
£60 million was spent that year with Newcastle’s signing of Papiss Cisse at £10 million the highest fee spent on any single player.
Yet while clubs in 2012 sought restraint for more traditional reasons, the forecast for 2020-21 made it almost impossible for clubs to spend big on new talent.
The coronavirus pandemic has left clubs without their usual excess to spend big in the transfer market, and it shows.
Across the Premier League’s ‘big six’, there were just three permanent transfers and three loan transfers. New rule changes after Brexit has added another hurdle to overcome, so it’s no surprise that clubs steered well clear.
Normal service could well resume in the summer, but £50 million to £100 million deals don’t currently have a place in the market.
In 2017-18, soon-to-be-crowned champions Man City splashed out £57 million to sign defender Aymeric Laporte.
This year, we’ve seen defending champions Liverpool instead turn their attention to Preston North End’s Ben Davies for just £2 million.
It’s been a remarkable shock to the system.
Winter spend that year (2018) was the highest of the last decade – reaching a stunning £500 million, thanks to lucrative deals for the likes of Laporte, and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
In some respect, the lack of transfer window spending is somewhat calming. When Premier League clubs spend big there is criticism that they have spent too much, with fees now heavily inflated.
Yet like now when sides can’t afford to spend nearly as much, there is criticism that there simply hasn’t been enough going on. It’s a no win scenario.
But it does mean that the majority of clubs will be continuing their campaign with the same core of players as at their disposal in the first half of the season.
Spending may well have plummeted compared to previous seasons, but the entertainment value in the top flight remains entirely the same.
As it stands, Man City sit top of the league, while Fulham, West Brom, and Sheffield United occupy the bottom three.
Man Utd, Liverpool and Leicester complete the top four in Champions League qualification hunt.
West Ham, Tottenham, Chelsea, Everton, Aston Villa and Arsenal are all in hot pursuit.
Bring on the remainder of the campaign. For more of Matt click here