Manchester United were the biggest spenders on the Premier League’s transfer deadline day as they splashed out £82 million ($94 million) on Ajax forward Antony, while Chelsea’s frenzied spree culminated with a swoop for Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Against the background of Britain’s cost of living crisis, Premier League clubs showed no caution, reportedly breaking the all-time record spending total for an entire season with an incredible £2 billion changing hands in just one transfer window.
The previous £1.86 billion record from 2017-18 was surpassed because United and their domestic rivals found no outlandish fee or wage demands beyond them.
As of last Thursday, gross spending by the 20 Premier League teams stood at £1.5 billion, surpassing the 2017 record of £1.43 billion spent by English clubs in one close-season window.
United manager Erik ten Hag has been responsible for a large chunk of the spending after returning to his former club Ajax to sign Antony.
The 22-year-old Brazilian is the fourth-most-expensive player in Premier League history.
“This is an incredible moment in my career to be joining one of the most iconic clubs in the world,” Antony said.
United had a busy window, signing Casemiro for £60 million from Real Madrid and Lisandro Martinez from Ajax for £56 million.
Ten Hag sealed another less expensive deal on Thursday as Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka arrived on a season-long loan to serve as back-up to David de Gea.
Even United’s spending pales compared to Chelsea, who splashed out around £240 million as their new American owners made a significant statement in their first window.
Having finally landed Leicester defender Wesley Fofana for a reported £70 million on Wednesday, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel reunited with Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who thrived under the German during their time at Borussia Dortmund.
The 33-year-old cost £10.3 million as he returned to the Premier League nine months after leaving Arsenal following his rift with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.
“I’m really happy. It’s an honour to be part of this team and I can’t wait to start. I have some unfinished business with the Premier League so it’s good to be back and really exciting,” Aubameyang said.
‘Best for the club’
Manchester City strengthened their injury-hit defence by signing Swiss international Manuel Akanji on a five-year deal from Dortmund.
Akanji will provide the Premier League champions with extra defensive depth after recent injuries to centre-backs Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake.
“City have been one of the best teams in Europe over the last few seasons. Coming here feels like the perfect next step in my career,” said Akanji, who cost City a reported £17 million.
Akanji is City’s second raid on Dortmund this summer after their £50 million deal for Norway striker Erling Haaland.
With the window closing at 2200 GMT, Liverpool made a late move by signing Arthur Melo on a season-long loan from Juventus in response to their midfield injury problems.
The 26-year-old Brazilian said: “I’m really happy to be here wearing this great shirt with this famous badge that represents so much in world football. It’s a dream.”
Leicester moved quickly to replace Fofana by signing Belgian Wout Faes from Ligue 1 side Reims, their first major acquisition of the summer.
Fulham signed Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa on a season-long loan and took Wales winger Daniel James on loan from Leeds.
The Cottagers also brought Willian back to the Premier League after the Brazilian winger left Corinthians in August.
Willian, formerly of Chelsea and Arsenal, agreed a one-year contract, saying: “I’m happy to be back in the Premier League. Fulham is a club that wants to improve, that wants to fight for something bigger.”
Senegal midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye returned to Everton from PSG for a nominal fee on a two-year contract.
The 32-year-old played for Everton from 2016 to 2019 before moving to PSG.
Brighton signed Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour from Chelsea for £7.5 million.
Wolves let Leander Dendoncker leave, with the Belgian midfielder joining Aston Villa for £13 million.
Southampton signed Manchester City’s teenagers Samuel Edozie and Juan Larios for a combined £16 million, landed Croatia centre-back Duje Caleta-Car from Marseille, and took Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal.