The coronavirus pandemic caused the first decline in the number of international transfers in the men’s game in a decade, FIFA has said.
World football’s governing body released its 2020 Global Transfer Market Report on Monday which found there were 17,077 moves across borders in the men’s professional game in 2020, a drop of 5.4 per cent from 2019.
“The downward trend is clearly due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” FIFA said in a release announcing the report.
The 2020 figure is still higher than that for 2018, when 16,547 such deals took place.
In January 2020 – before the pandemic had taken hold across the world – the number of deals were up 9.2 per cent on the same month in 2019, the report said.
Transfer fees were also impacted, with a drop in spending to 5.63 billion US dollars (£4.15bn) – down 23.4 per cent on 2019.
Chelsea’s signing of Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen was one of the top 10 biggest deals of 2020 according to FIFA, though it did not disclose the precise transfer fee. The governing body said those 10 deals alone accounted for 15 per cent of the overall annual spend.
England remained the biggest spending national association on international deals, with an outlay of 1.627bn US dollars.
The women’s professional game continued to grow despite the pandemic, highlighted by an increase of 23.7 per cent in the number of international deals which were recorded – 1,035.