Soccer clubs in the Premier League are spending huge sums on an unlikely position

  • The world record goalkeeper fee has been broken twice in three weeks, first by Liverpool and then Chelsea.
  • Summer player transfer expenditure falls after seven consecutive seasons of growth.
  • Tottenham Hotspur fails to sign any new players, with the cost of its new stadium and Brexit both cited.

Teams in the U.K.'s Premier League spent £1.2 billion ($1.53 billion) buying players in the first shortened summer transfer window, according to analysis by Deloitte's Sports Business Group.

The top two most expensive recruits weren't attacking players, as was the case in 2017. Instead, the world record fee for a goalkeeper was twice broken in the space of three weeks.

Liverpool hopes its long-term search for a new number one has finally found success in Brazilian Alisson Becker, who cost £66 million.

But that fee was surpassed with a day to go in the window, when Chelsea quickly worked out a £71.6 million deal with Athletic Bilbao for Kepa Arrizabalaga to replace the Real Madrid-bound Thibout Courtois.

The Premier League's transfer window for the 2018/19 season was shut at 5 p.m. on the Thursday before the first game, which was yesterday. All the other top leagues in Europe have stuck to the longstanding deadline of August 31, or thereabouts.

The premium being placed on filling such a key position as goalkeeper was clearly a priority for both clubs.

Manchester City paid over £35 million in 2017 to purchase Ederson Moraes on its way to winning the league with a record 100 points, showing the value of having the right person in goal.

Chelsea unveil new signing Kepa Arrizabalaga at Stamford Bridge on August 9, 2018 in London, England.
 Luke Walker | Getty Images
Chelsea unveil new signing Kepa Arrizabalaga at Stamford Bridge on August 9, 2018 in London, England.

Tim Bridge, director of Deloitte's Sports Business Group, said: "Premier League clubs' gross player transfer expenditure of £1.2 billion continues to demonstrate the sheer purchasing power of the most commercially successful football league in the world. With Premier League clubs' aggregate revenues forecast to reach £5 billion in 2018/19, clubs can well-afford to significantly invest in on-pitch talent in the quest for both success and survival."

Premier League clubs' net player transfer expenditure to August 9 was £865 million, well in excess of the £665 million for the summer 2017 transfer window. Of the players transferred-in, just £175 million (14 percent) were intra-Premier League transfers, a record low proportion across the history of the summer transfer window.

Tottenham Hotspur was the only club not to do any business at all during this summer, the first time since the transfer window was introduced in 2003 that a Premier League team hasn't had any incomings.

The north London club will again be competing in the UEFA Champions League, as well as moving into its newly-built stadium next month, but manager Mauricio Pochettino has insisted he's content with the situation. Instead, the Argentine has praised the work of the Tottenham hierarchy in securing some of the club's key assets on long-term contracts, including World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane.

However, he has called the decision not to sign players as "brave" and pointed to factors surrounding Brexit for a lack of transfers. Commenting close to the end of the window, he equated the weakness of the pound against the euro to an additional 30 percent increase on player fees from the continent.

Premier League clubs may now no longer be able to purchase players until January, but they will be wary about losing some. Many of Europe's other top leagues haven't followed the same model and can still buy players up until the end of August.