The global football transfer market hit a record high in 2014, breaking the $4 billion (3.5 billion euros) barrier for the first time, a report published by FIFA on Wednesday revealed.
England, with its highly lucrative Premier League, provided the biggest investors and, despite their failure at the World Cup, Brazilian players were the most sought-after.
A total of 13,000 players moved clubs, but the combined total of $4.06 billion (3.57 billion euros) in transfer fees does not include the commission paid to players’ agents, which accounted for a further $236 million.
The total was 2.1 percent up on the 2013 total of $3.98 billion and showed an average annual increase of 3.4 percent since 2011, according to the annual report, Global Transfer Market 2015, by FIFA TMS, which monitors all deals.
A staggering 87 percent of all the money which changed hands was spent by European clubs and transfers between European clubs represented 78 percent of the global total.
English clubs were the world’s biggest spenders, accounting for $1.17 billion in 2014, which represents more than a quarter of global spending, according to Mark Goddard, general manager of FIFA TMS.
Spanish clubs received the biggest slice of transfer fees, at $667 million, up from 584 million in 2013. English clubs came next, receiving $523 million, and Portugal third on $435 million.
Brazilian clubs were the most active in the market, recording 646 incoming transfers and 689 outgoing transfers.
For the first time, China broke into the top 10 investing countries, with clubs paying out more than £100 million.
The average age of players transferred during the year was 25 years and 6 months.
Brazilian players were the leading targets, accounting for 1,493 moves, worth $448 million, ahead of players from Argentina, with 801 transfers, England (596) and France (507).
Brazil’s central defender David Luiz cost Paris Saint-Germain 50 million euros from Chelsea, but it was a Frenchman, Eliaquim Mangala, who became the world’s costliest defender when he moved from Porto to Manchester City for 54 million euros.