2016 was a very busy year for people involved in football transfers, as reported in the Global Transfer Market Report 2017, issued by FIFA TMS. In total clubs conducted 14.591 player transfers, nearly a thousand transfers more compared to the previous year (2015), where TMS registered 13.601 official player transfers. It is also the first time in history that over fourteen thousand transfers amongst clubs have been concluded, this however did not result in breaking existing patterns in terms of transfers between certain countries.
Americas’ strong regional growth
It has often been written that football clubs on the Americas are much more active on the transfer market than ever before. The TMS-report underlines that perception. Player transfers between clubs within the same confederations have increased on a global scale, where the biggest increases were measured in the Americas. CONCACAF (North-America & Caribbean) witnessed an increase of 22%, where CONMBEBOL registered an increase of 19% in transfers amongst its own clubs. AFC (+5.7%), UEFA (3.8%) and CAF (+2.3%) also saw their volume of ‘internal transfers’ increase, but stayed well behind the figures of the Americas confederations.
Ever-growing global business
That football is continuously growing on a global scale is no surprise to many. An ever-growing number of football clubs are learning the trade of raking income and conduct transfers. Since its inception in 2010, the FIFA TMS never registered an amount of 879 transfers between countries that never done any transfer related business prior to 2016. A slight increase in the overall international player transfers was recorded compared to 2011, as the figures went up from 3.231 player transfers in 2011 to 3.770 players transfers in 2016. Clear signs of the globalization of the football transfer market.
Football streams on European market
The European transfer market is still dominated by transfers to and from England, compared to 2015. The English clubs as a whole are ranked in the entire top five football transfer streams, which are explained as international transfers between countries. The biggest European football stream is between England (out) and Scotland (in), followed by England/Wales, Wales/England, Scotland/England and England/Spain.
The domination of the European transfer market by the English clubs is also observed in the most valuable transfer streams in Europe. The four most valuable transfer streams are all towards England, where Germany ($238M), France ($227M), Spain ($223M) and Italy ($210M) are amongst the top receivers of transfer fees paid by English clubs. Largest transfer stream not involving England was between Italy and Spain, as the Spanish clubs spent almost $140 million on new players from Italy.
The largest inter-confederation transfer streams involving a European nation is the one between Brazil and Portugal and vice versa. The stream of players from Brazil and Portugal remains the biggest transfer stream worldwide, as Portuguese clubs brought in 168 Brazilian players (+15%).
Although there are little changes noticeable in transfers conducted by European clubs, there is still little changes to be picked-up from analysing the transfer streams. The European market on a global scale saw in influx in incoming transfers from Africa, as European clubs engaged a total of 416 player transfers relating to players still active in Africa. This represents an increase of thirty-one percent (31%) compared to a year earlier. Transfers between Europe and Asia increased by eighteen percent (18%).
Other trends in transfer streams
Another significant observation made was the decrease in conditional fees in football transfers conducted between clubs in 2016. A total of $636 million were registered as conditional fees, a decrease of eleven percent (11%) compared to a year earlier. A sharp drop in global training compensation paid by clubs in 2016 was also registered in the FIFA TMS, totalling $15 million paid as training compensation in 2016 (-25%). The total amount of transfer fees paid by clubs saw an increase to $4 billion in 2016, increasing the total volume with 20% compared to all registered transfers in 2015.
Another observation made in the reports is the average transfer fee paid for players, based on their age. About sixty percent of paid transfers involving players of age sixteen and seventeen are costing the engaging club less than one million dollars, where no more than 10% of these players are costing the engaging more than one million dollars. That average drops significantly for players at age eighteen, where roughly twenty percent of the transfers are concluded with a fee less than one million dollar and no more than five percent costing over one million dollars.
The only age group that reaches the same average numbers of transfer value as the 16-17 age group are the players that are about to reach their peak age (23-25). On average about eighty percent of the players between the ages of 19 and 36+ are transferred as free agents.