Premier League spending is down big in January window

While it's become customary over recent January windows to see huge fees for players in the Premier League, this January has been rather quiet.
Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League
Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Let's be honest right now, this January window in the Premier League has been disappointing, at least if compared to recent years. Over the past few winter windows in the Premier League, there have been immense amounts of money spent for players to change their employers.

As of right now, only 11 players have been signed in the Premier League, with the disclosed fees amassing to a whopping 34.6 million pounds (depending on sources this number rises to roughly 46 million pounds). To put that into perspective, this same time last year, the league had made 26 signings, and had a combined expenditure of 352.2 million pounds, disclosed fees only.

With players like Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk, each moving to Chelsea for 106.8 million pounds and 88.5 million pounds respectively, Anthony Gordon going to Newcastle United for 40 million, Cody Gakpo moving from PSV to Liverpool for 37 million, the list goes on. There was excitement, drama, and last-minute swoops, it was a proper window.

This month, however, we've seen very little in terms of movement. Everton and Nottingham Forest getting FFP violations and points deductions handed down by the Premier League have provided at least a bit of a surprise and some intrigue (and sorrow if you are a Forest or Everton fan). Kalvin Phillips getting his long-awaited move away from the Etihad might end up being one of the bigger storylines for the entire window, which should really tell you something about how little has gone on this January in England.

Manchester United will be delighted to have pulled off a move that pulled a key figure away from rivals Manchester City in an effort to hire a new CEO with their new ownership group starting to bring in some new faces to help fix their mess. Again, another move that normally wouldn't make too many headlines, but with the window the Premier League has seen thus far, claims front-page news.

Some other notable moves include Valentin Barco moving from Boca Juniors to Brighton Hove & Albion, Timo Werner moving to Tottenham on loan, and Manchester City signing Claudio Echeverri from River Plate of Argentina (who won't join the club until January of 2025.

So, what's driving this spending reduction?

Profit & Sustainability Rules: Enhanced Enforcement

Why such little spending from a league that has all the financial power in the world? What gives? It's reasonable to assume that clubs will not want to risk the wrath of a points deduction such as the ones that Everton and Nottingham Forest have received, which could play a crucial part in the relegation battle come the end of the season. Financial Fair Play along with the Profit and Sustainability rules in the Premier League is without a doubt a driving factor for all clubs (admittedly some more than others), especially with all the rumors circulating about the potential penalty for Manchester City should they be proven guilty of some of the more serious charges against them come trial.

Multiplying Effect

Another factor to look at is simple: the spending had to catch up with some clubs sooner or later in the Premier League. Chelsea has spent over $1 billion since the Clearlake Ownership group took over in 2022, Newcastle has done a good amount of business since their new owners came in, but dealings in January are always a bit more difficult. Even wealthy clubs will not throw big money at players if it doesn't make sense (mostly...). More importantly, most clubs do not want to sell their best players in January when their season is still ongoing.

From a commercial standpoint, the Premier League has long dominated the broadcasting game, with rights fees in the English top flight going for $8.4 million in the latest deal that begins in 2025. With all that money being poured into the Premier League, it leaves other leagues to fight for scraps, if you will, and with significantly less money to spend, well, clubs do their best to hold onto key players until the next new British transfer record can be broken. The Premier League is falling victim to their own global success in a way. Simply put, fewer players bought from Premier League clubs means there's less need to spend and go out and find new players.

Is it worth it?

Some of the fees, as seen with Fernandez and Mudryk, have turned the unthinkable into reality. Even for a club like Newcastle United, who have some of the richest owners in world football, are more likely to see key players depart than to bring in new ones this January.

Seeing what some of these big fees have turned into (thus far) only further cautions big outlays on players moving forward. While it's understandable that there is a grace period, the pressure on a player who moves for big money is undeniable, just ask Jack Grealish. Most clubs and fans now lose patience with players if their performances don't live up to the price tag, even though the player has zero control over that aspect. This could play another small part in the hesitation this January to spend, and spend big, on potential.

More commonly the moves in January consist of players on the move due to lack of playing time, heading out to a lower league (or different league altogether) to gain that first-team experience in the hopes of returning, much improved, to their parent club. These kinds of moves don't get too much attention, however, it is the reality for so many clubs in England and around Europe.

International Football

Let's not forget this window is further complicated by international football. With the Africa Cup of Nations and Asian Cup taking place in January, this only further complicates the transfer of players who may be involved in this competition.

There are so many reasons why the January transfer window can prove difficult, even for the Premier League and all its financial might. There are just 7days remaining in this window and lingering rumblings from some corners around the Premier League about potential deals that still remain in play. Do you think any more dominoes will fall? If so, what moves do you still believe will happen before the window closes?

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