Luiz return to Chelsea caps frenzied summer of EPL spending
LONDON >> English Premier League clubs swelled the bank accounts of continental rivals in a summer of record-breaking spending that ended Wednesday with the biggest shock of the transfer window: David Luiz's return to Chelsea.
The flamboyant Brazilian is back at Stamford Bridge after two years at Paris Saint-Germain to reinforce Chelsea's defense under new manager Antonio Conte. While Chelsea sold the 29-year-old for around 50 million pounds ($84 million in 2014), the London club has re-signed him on a three-year contract for about 20 million pounds ($26 million) less.
That's also far lower than what was spent on the summer transfer window's biggest reunion. Italian champion Juventus banked a world-record 105 million euros ($116 million) from Manchester United for midfielder Paul Pogba's return to Old Trafford.
United was one of 13 Premier League sides to break their club records for spending on a single player since the end of last season. The 20 top-flight clubs collectively spent nearly 1.2 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) on talent in the summer, breaking the billion-pound barrier for the first time in a transfer window as they benefit from new television deals.
Over the next three years, the Premier League will make 8.3 billion pounds ($10.9 billion) from broadcasters eager to televise the most unpredictable of Europe's top leagues — a bonanza that has swelled thanks to a 70 percent upsurge in the value of domestic rights.
There is a flipside.
"All the European clubs rub their hands because when they are short of money they just ring up one of the Premier League clubs (to sell a player) to keep them going for the next two years with 10 million, 20 million — whatever it might be," Stoke chairman Peter Coates told the BBC on Wednesday. "So it's pretty good business for them."
Stoke had a relatively modest summer of spending after breaking its transfer record in the January window when it paid Portuguese club Porto 18.3 million pounds (then $26 million) for defensive midfielder Giannelli Imbula.
Negotiating with clubs on the continent for a bargain is proving tougher for Premier League chairmen like Steve Parish at Crystal Palace. The London club's record-breaking summer deal was a domestic transaction, paying Liverpool 27 million pounds ($35 million) for striker Christian Benteke.
"It's been the most difficult transfer window anybody can remember — there's kind of a wall of money," Parish said. "The other leagues basically have decided there's one price within their league and a completely different price if a Premier League club calls. The prices have gone crazy ... you find people focusing more on the domestic market."
Tottenham turned to Newcastle for its biggest summer deal, paying a reported 30 million pounds ($39 million) as the window was closing for France midfielder Moussa Sissoko.
French clubs profited from the English wealth on Wednesday, receiving about 55 million pounds ($72 million) from the Premier League. Luiz's return was preceded by Georges-Kevin Nkoudou's move from Marseille to Tottenham and Sunderland signing Didier Ndong from Lorient.
Here are some of the other key deadline-day moves across Europe:
While splurging on new talent, Premier League clubs having sought to shed non-vital players. Offloading top earners is tough with the wealthier parent clubs, like Manchester City, often having to subsidize the wages for a player on loan.
New City coach Pep Guardiola dispatched Joe Hart, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri and Eliaquim Mangala on Wednesday for the rest of the season.
Hart, the England goalkeeper, is now at Italian club Torino after dropping to third choice at City. Bony joined Stoke after seeing his career stall since joining from Swansea last year. Nasri headed to Sevilla for the season after Guardiola said the French midfielder returned for preseason training "overweight." France center back Mangala also departed for Spain with Valencia.
In addition, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere had to accept moving to a less prestigious club on Wednesday, heading to Bournemouth on the English Riviera for the season in a bid to revive his injury-plagued career.
Liverpool also got troubled striker Mario Balotelli off its books, with the Italian joining Nice in France.
Three of the biggest transfers in Serie A on deadline day saw players arrive from England. As well as Hart's loan move, Juan Cuadrado returned to Juventus from Chelsea and Luis Alberto joined Lazio from Liverpool on permanent deals.
In the biggest internal deal of the summer in Italy, Juventus reinvested the Pogba windfall by bringing in last season's top goalscorer, Gonzalo Higuain, for 90 million euros ($100 million) from Napoli.
Bundesliga clubs broke the 500 million-euro ($558 million) barrier for the first time in a transfer window, with the largest late deal seeing Brazilian Olympic gold medalist defender Douglas Santos join Hamburger SV from Atletico Mineiro for up to 10 million euros ($11.2 million).
Espanyol was the most active Spanish club Wednesday as the squad overhauled its roster under new Chinese owner Chen Yansheng continued.
After conceding eight goals in its first two matches of the season, Espanyol brought in three players (striker Alvaro Vazquez, defender Diego Rivas and goalkeeper Diego Lopez) and shipped out four more.
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