Like most other countries, there are two transfer windows for English professional football. The summer one exists for two months between 1 July – 1 September, while there’s a winter window spanning 1 January – 1 February.
These windows of opportunity represent the only occasion where a Premier League or Championship club can sign players, with the summer window proving the most popular time to open the chequebook and make alterations to an already bulging squad.
The summer transfer window of 2016 was unprecedented in terms of spend levels. Between the twenty Premier League clubs, over £1 billion was spent on new players and £170 million of this was splashed out on transfer deadline day itself.
The reason for this astronomical spend? Largely the new £3 billion television deal which comes into effect for the 2016/17 football season which will see top flight clubs receive between £30 million and £50 million simply by being there.
“Obviously a key catalyst of this spending is the TV rights, the money is there and the clubs are spending it,” Dan Jones, head of the sports business unit at Deloitte, told the BBC.
2016 represented the sixth year in a row where spend levels increased in a summer transfer window and it’s simply never been more important for a football club to be in the Premier League from a financial point-of-view.
The English top flight might not boast the best teams in Europe right now, although its huge global appeal means that the landscape could change over the next few years, with Spanish, German and Italian counterparts unable to match the spend levels. Bookmakers are now seeing record amounts of betting turnover on the Premier League as well.
Even if you delve into the Championship, the clubs benefitting from their first instalment of parachute payments and throwing money at the cause of getting instant promotion back to the Premier League.
Rafael Benitez has recruited heavily at Newcastle to bring the likes of Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Mohamed Diame on top-flight wages, while Aston Villa have spent a combined £26 million on two strikers that have never played in the English Premier League.
Sky Sports cover the transfer window extensively through their News HQ channel and the hype on deadline day has often exceeded the actual substance when it comes to the deals themselves.
However, it was the first time that Jim White and his posse were genuinely struggling to keep up with the amount of money changing hands and that was after Manchester United had agreed a world-record transfer fee of €110 million to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford.
Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), David Luiz (Chelsea), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), John Stones (Man City), Leroy Sane (Man City), Pogba (Man United), Eric Bailly (Man United) and Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham) all moved in the transfer window for a fee that exceeded £30 million.
Another notable transfer saw N’Golo Kante leave Leicester City with his champions medal and join Chelsea for a reported £32 million fee. The Frenchman had previously arrived at the King Power for a more modest fee; a transfer that 888 Sport believes is one of the top ten Premier League signings ever. His performances played a big part in ensuring the Foxes pulled off a minor miracle.
We should expect the trend to continue during the summer transfer window of 2017, with Manchester United and Manchester City likely to move towards the Real Madrid model of making one marquee signing per year that strengthens their squad and broadens commercial appeal in one foul swoop.