Sep 01, 2016

    Loaded EPL leads record Europe transfer spree


    THE English Premier League powered a record-breaking raid by Europe's top clubs before the transfer window closed yesterday, with Arsenal alone paying more than 60 million euros (S$91 million) for German defender Shkodran Mustafi and Spanish striker Lucas Perez.

    The EPL's TV riches have fuelled transfer inflation across the continent, with Inter Milan and Barcelona paying top dollar for Brazil's Olympic gold medal-winning striker Gabriel Barbosa and Valencia goal-scorer Paco Alcacer respectively.

    Spending by the 20-club EPL was expected to bust £1 billion (S$1.8 billion) after Manchester United set a new world record with the £89 million purchase of French midfielder Paul Pogba.

    The Gunners spent an estimated £35 million to bring German international Mustafi from Valencia.

    "He is at the right age," manager Arsene Wenger said of the 24-year-old who was in the 2014 World Cup-winning squad.

    "And he has good experience," Wenger added of the big defender who was in the German team who reached the semi-finals at Euro 2016.

    Arsenal paid another £17 million for Deportivo La Coruna striker Perez, according to media reports, while they have also bought Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka.

    Inter Milan confirmed the signing of Barbosa on his 20th birthday late on Tuesday.

    The Gazzetta dello Sport website reported Inter paid 27.5 million euros for "Gabi-gol", who has drawn comparisons with Neymar.

    Spain international Alcacer joined Barca from Valencia in a 30-million-euro, five-year deal, the Catalan side announced.

    The 20-year-old scored 13 goals in 34 appearances for Valencia last season.

    Clubs also helped top players seek a regular game.

    Chelsea, for example, let French international striker Loic Remy go on loan to Crystal Palace for one season.

    But the EPL's £5.14 billion, three-season TV deal has set a pace that few other championships can keep up with.

    Christian Heidel, sporting director for German club Schalke, said: "If English managers are on the phone, then the (transfer) sums are automatically higher."