English Clubs continue to set the pace in the transfer window across Europe. The likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have consistently outspent all other clubs in acquiring players. A fierce domestic league and deep pockets lined by TV rights money mean that English clubs must keep spending to stay relevant much less win titles.
At the end of the 2021/22 summer transfer window, the Top 3 transfers involved English clubs on the buying side with only 1 of those transfers between two English clubs. This is a continuation of the trend that has seen English clubs spend over £1bn every summer transfer since 2019. Despite the transfer spend per season dropping for the 2nd year in a row.
In the 2021 summer transfer window, the prior British transfer record of £89m paid to Juventus for the transfer of Paul Pogba in 2016 was broken twice. First was the transfer of Aston Villa captain, Jack Grealish to Manchester City for a fee of £100m. The Citizens had no problems paying a British record fee of £100m for the 26-year-old attacking midfielder who had been on the radar of the English Champions for a while. He would serve as the ostensible replacement for David Silva in the squad but also possessing the flexibility to play in other positions as is expected of a typical Guardiola kind of player. The Englishman has also hit the ground running with the Citizens, having already opened his goal account in both the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
At the later part of the summer transfer, Chelsea completed a £96m move to bring back Romelu Lukaku to the club. 10 years after first landing on the shores of Stamford Bridge, the Belgian striker would make a glorious return to the club has gone through spells at West Brom, Everton, Manchester United, and Inter Milan before cutting the grade with Chelsea. Brought in to solve their goalscoring problems, Romelu Lukaku has hit the ground running already for Thomas Tuchel's side. He has so far scored 4 goals in 4 matches, including a brace against Aston Villa and the matchwinner against Zenit Saint Petersburg in the UEFA Champions League.
The third-highest transfer deal of the 2021 summer transfer window was Borussia Dortmund's £73m sale of Jadon Sancho to Manchester United. The former Manchester City player shone in the Bundesliga over a 4-year period where he scored 38 goals in 104 matches. The 21-year-old was signed by United to solve the club's right-wing problems after the likes of Daniel James and Anthony Martial have not done enough to hold down the spot. The London-born player was rumoured to be open to joining Chelsea but after failing in negotiations in 2020, the Red Devils ensured to go over the finish line this time around.
Even though the most expensive deals happened in the Premier League, there were other big moves in other leagues during this transfer window that shook the world of football. Lionel Messi ended his 21-year association with FC Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer while the French club also completed free transfers for some of the biggest names which include Sergio Ramos, Gini Wijnaldum, and Gigi Donnarumma. Achraf Hakimi was also brought to the Parc des Princes in a €60m deal from Inter Milan. David Alaba moved from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid while Antoine Griezmann returned to Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day.
Overall, the biggest spenders are an unlikely Arsenal side who spent £142m to revitalise a squad that finished outside of all European positions last season. However, deals for players such as Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Martin Odegaard, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares are not viewed as those that can take the Gunners back to league challenger position. The London side is thought to have prioritised quantity over quality after also letting go of 19 first-team stars.