The most expensive Premier League transfer windows ever

  • Figures have been going up and down over the past six or seven years
  • Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea account for a lot of the spending
  • A £2bn summer transfer window is not very far away
Antony and Casemiro helped make 2022 a very expensive summer
Antony and Casemiro helped make 2022 a very expensive summer / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

The Premier League has firmly cemented itself as the financial powerhouse of both European and world football - at least until the Saudi Pro League started throwing ridiculous wages around.

The spending power of the biggest clubs in England's top flight is almost unrivalled in Europe with even mid-to-lower table sides now on a par with many top teams in Italy, Germany and Spain.

For that reason, the general trend of spending figures in Premier League transfer windows is only going up, even if it's not quite as simple as the final figure being higher year on year.

Here are the six highest-spending Premier League transfer windows ever.

6. Summer 2021 - £1.1bn

Romelu Lukaku
It's fair to say Lukaku's return to Chelsea did not work out / Robin Jones/GettyImages

That such a recent year is down in sixth place is due to the real effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that began to be felt by football clubs. Less so at Premier League level, of course, but it still existed.

Major moves in this summer transfer window included Romelu Lukaku's return to Chelsea from Inter for £103.5m, Jack Grealish's switch from Aston Villa to Manchester City for £100m and Jadon Sancho's £76.5m arrival at Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund.

5. Summer 2018 - £1.2bn

Liverpool v Bayern Munich - Preseason Friendly
Alisson has proved to be worth every penny for Liverpool / Playmaker/MB Media/GettyImages

A big summer for a number of teams, Liverpool spent big to bring in Alisson for £66.8m and Naby Keita for £48m, as well as Fabinho for £39m. Man City splashed out on Riyad Mahrez for £60m from Leicester, while Chelsea paid £71.6m for Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Fred arrived at Man Utd for £47m and there were also plenty of mid-level deals done by some of the smaller sides in the league, such as Richarlison's £25m move to Everton.

4. Summer 2020 - £1.3bn

Francisco Trincao, Timo Werner
Werner couldn't deliver goals at Chelsea / Visionhaus/GettyImages

You may expect this transfer window to have been more depressed due to the Covid-19 pandemic but there was little knowledge at this stage about just how disrupted life was going to be over the next couple of years.

For that reason, Premier League spending was around the sort of level that had become the norm in the few years prior. Chelsea spent £222.5m in this window on players like Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell. Man City signed Ruben Dias for £61m, while Liverpool forked out £40m on Diogo Jota.

3. Summer 2017 - £1.4bn

Bernardo Silva
Silva has been worth the money for Man City, despite rumours linking him with a move away / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

This was a record-breaking year at the time and really made a lot of people sit up and realise just how much the Premier League was now able to spend.

Mohamed Salah arrived at Liverpool, though only for a modest fee of £34m, while Man Utd spent £146m on Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof. Man City parted with £211m on various players that included Ederson, Danilo, Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva.

2. Summer 2019 - £1.41bn

Nicolas Pepe
Nicolas Pepe could not reproduce his Lille form when he arrived at Arsenal / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

This is a transfer window that will sting in hindsight for a lot of clubs, as any wasted money was compounded by the forecoming pandemic. That is the case for Arsenal, who wasted £72m on Nicolas Pepe in 2019.

Man City splashed the cash yet again as they spent almost £130m on Rodri and Joao Cancelo during this window, while Man Utd parted with around the same amount on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka to bolster their defence.

Even Newcastle were spending - back under Mike Ashley when it was a surprise - as they dropped £40m on Joelinton. Another regretful signing, Tottenham spent £53.8m on Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon.

1. Summer 2022 - £1.9bn

Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland has been more than worth the money already at Man City / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

The big one. There are varying ways to judge the overall spend of a transfer window and by some estimates, 2022 was a £2bn window. We have used Deloitte for all of the figures and they say it fell just short.

While it was January 2023 when Todd Boehly really came into his own, Chelsea still used £254m on a number of players. Darwin Nunez arrived at Liverpool for £67.5m, Erling Haaland docked at City for £51m, and Man Utd signed Antony, Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia for £214m.

What really showed how things have changed was the amount unestablished Premier League teams like Leeds (£93m) and Brentford (£45m) could spend.

It remains to be seen whether 2023 is going to immediately break the record once again, but even if it doesn't, it certainly won't take long.