French clubs flex new financial might with record spending
PARIS (AP) — French clubs bought four times more and sold twice as much during the transfer window than at the same stage last year.
Publishing the figures on Monday, the French league said the market experienced “a new dynamic.”
With Paris Saint-Germain spending massively, French clubs paid out 697 million euros ($830 million) and made 619 million euros ($736 million).
Brazil striker Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona for a world record 222 million euros ($262 million), with 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe arriving from Monaco last week in a deal that is expected to cost PSG 180 million euros ($216 million). The experienced Dani Alves joined PSG from Juventus, while former Manchester City forward Stevan Jovetic went to Monaco from Inter Milan.
PSG sold midfielder Blaise Matuidi to Juventus, while Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette joined Premier League club Arsenal for 60 million euros ($68 million) and teammate Corentin Tolisso went to Bayern Munich for 41.5 million euros ($46.8 million).
For the first time since 2013, French teams bought more than they sold. Furthermore, in terms of transfers between French clubs only, the amount almost tripled compared to 2016, rising from 56 million euros ($67 million) to 163 million euros ($194 million).
With increased television rights boosting the spending power of interested buyers, French sides sold a national-record 29 players for 10 million euros ($11.9 million) or more — twice as many as last year — with 12 first-division clubs involved in such a transaction.
“The 2017 transfer window confirms the new attractiveness of Ligue 1,” LFP executive director Didier Quillot said. “The record number of sales also demonstrates the quality of the academies at French clubs, who have completely integrated the transfer market in their development model.”
Monaco appears to be the best at selling, recruiting talented young players thanks to its vast scouting network, giving them playing time and selling them within three years for huge profits.
Anyone wanting to study the art of making money should study Monaco, which two years ago sold young forward Anthony Martial to Manchester United in a deal rising to 80 million ($95.6 million). The team had signed him from Lyon for only 4 million euros ($4.8 million).
Last season, Monaco won the league with a young side and thrilled Europe with a brand of attacking soccer that took it all the way to the Champions League semifinals.
Several players from that side, including Mbappe, have been sold.
Manchester City splashed out nearly 110 million euros ($131 million) to buy Portugal attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva (bought for 16 million euros in 2015) and France left back Benjamin Mendy (bought for 13 million euros last year).
Monaco repelled offers of 100 million euros ($119 million) from Arsenal and Liverpool for midfielder Thomas Lemar, while rugged central midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, who joined Monaco from Rennes in 2014, was sold to Premier League champion Chelsea for 43 million euros ($51 million) and a profit of 35 million euros ($41.6 million).
PSG’s spending, however, might come at a price.
UEFA put PSG’s finances under formal investigation last Friday, citing “recent transfer activity” that triggered concern the club was again flouting rules designed to control excessive spending by top European clubs.
The deal for Mbappe was unusual as a one-season loan with a commitment to pay in 2018. It fueled speculation PSG was seeking to evade UEFA’s monitoring of spending rules designed to ensure clubs try to break even on their soccer income and spending on transfers and wages.