This post is a collaboration between Scoreboard Journalism and Show Legend, a data visualisation blog which provided the idea and the graphs and plots. You can click on these for the full interactive version. The data is sourced from Transfermarkt.com. All data is up to date as of 2 February 2016 and includes Jackson Martinez’s big money move to Guangzhou which makes China the biggest net spenders ever in a winter transfer window.
The winter transfer window has now closed in most countries and China’s net spend of €156.12 million is not only the highest of all countries in this window but also breaks the record for a winter transfer window of €106.82 million, set by all English clubs back in 2008. This is not the end of the story though as Chinese clubs from all divisions still have nearly three weeks to go before their window closes and their current net spend this winter could still grow further. Chinese clubs have become the first to have the highest net spend in three successive winter transfer windows.English clubs were the biggest net spenders in four of the winter transfer windows between 2006 and 2013. Other countries to have topped this list are Spain (twice), Russia, France and, for the last three years, China. Chinese clubs have become bigger spenders in the last three winter transfer windows after spending only around €20 million more than they earned from transfers prior to the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons in China.Chinese clubs have joined English teams as the dominant buyers in winter transfer windows spending more than €100 million more on players than income that they gain from players leaving. The fairest comparison here though is not between China, which is about to begin its season, and England, which is around halfway through. The Chinese league is trying to get a foothold in the international market just as America’s Major League Soccer is.
Comparing the net spend of those two leagues – one heavily regulated and one not – shows how this difference can be reflected in net spending. The MLS spending has been relatively flat over the years with about as much being spent as earned on players. This window the MLS, whose teams and player contracts are owned centrally by the league, has actually earned more from player sales than it has spent on signing players.
China has therefore joined England as the biggest players in the winter transfer window in recent years and 2015/2016 is no exception. Jackson Martinez was the most expensive transfer in this window, moving from Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande for €42 million. Elkeson’s move within China is currently the fourth most costly transfer in the world this winter.
The map below has only China and England deep in the red in transfers this window and only Mexico joins them as significant net spenders, both more than 100 million behind China and England. Clubs from a handful of other countries like Belgium and Qatar have also spent more than they recouped but the difference is minimal. Brazilian clubs were the greatest net earners this window with over €58 million more coming in to the coffers than going out.
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