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Wed. 07 October 2020

COVID only braked the inflation of players’ transfer prices

While the COVID pandemic has brought a considerable drop in the level of investments on the transfer market, footballers signed for money by big-5 league teams during the last transfer window were paid on average 6% more than players with similar characteristics during the summer 2019. The full CIES Football Observatory analysis is available in the 58th edition of the Monthly Report.

During the last transfer window, clubs from the five major European leagues invested 43% less in transfer indemnities to sign new players compared to summer 2019. The minimal fall was recorded in the English Premier League (from €1.65 to €1.49 billion, -10%), while the maximum was measured in the Spanish Liga (from €1.40 billion to €348 million, -75%).

The percentage of free transfers among all players taken on permanently by big-5 league clubs has significantly increased: from 26.2% to 32.2%. The percentage of players recruited on loan out of all signings went also up: from 23.1% to a record 30.0%. The COVID pandemic has also reinforced the tendency for teams to integrate conditional payments and sell-on percentages into the transactions.

The COVID crisis has strongly impacted the probability that players are signed for money. However, if a transfer takes place, the hypothesis according to which the price would have been negotiated to a lower level than before the pandemic does not hold true. In this regard, the most marking impact of the pandemic resides in the slowing down of the rampant inflation of players’ prices: from 15% on average per year between 2015 and 2019, down to 6% between 2019 and 2020.

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