The heaviest spending as European football’s transfer window closed on Monday was not by traditional powers but mid-ranking English clubs Stoke and Everton collectively paying around $45 million on two players.
Stoke made the biggest outlay of the window with the 18.3 million pound ($26 million) signing of defensive midfielder Giannelli Imbula shortly after Everton spent 13.5 million pounds ($19.5 million) on forward Oumar Niasse.
Their spending sprees on largely unknown players reasserted the financial supremacy of the Premier League – a competition Pep Guardiola will be joining next season.
The announcement that Guardiola would be joining Manchester City was the most eye-catching moment on transfer deadline day, which is usually about clubs frantically making final additions to squads for the rest of the season rather than changes in the dugout.
Guardiola’s hiring had been anticipated since disclosing in December that he would leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season. The surprise was the timing.
City rushed out official word of Guardiola’s summer arrival after Pellegrini ended a news conference by revealing he would be leaving the Abu Dhabi-owned club a year early.
At City, Guardiola will be linking up with Barcelona executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Beguiristain, hoping to replicate the dominance he enjoyed at the Camp Nou: Winning 14 trophies in four years as coach. Guardiola has gone on to win back-to-back league titles at Bayern in the time Pellegrini has only collected the Premier League trophy once at City.
Guardiola will find the Premier League far more competitive than the Spanish and German leagues. City is currently only second, three points behind a previously unfancied Leicester side which fought relegation last season.
New television deals kicking in next season – expected to generate around $13 billion over three years for the Premier League – are providing more spending power across the league. Now even less illustrious English teams can offer more lucrative transfer fees than Europe’s long-standing powerhouses.
Bournemouth, Everton, Newcastle and Stoke all spent more than 10 million pounds on players in the winter transfer window – the biggest deal coming as the 2300 GMT transfer cut-off approached.
Stoke broke its transfer record to land the 23-year-old Imbula from Porto who has played for the France under-21s but never the senior side.
”He has great power, good ability on the ball and a great range of passing and there’s no doubt he will add to the quality that we already have at the club,” Stoke manager Mark Hughes said.
The 25-year-old Niasse was signed by 12th-place Everton from Lokomotiv Moscow after being voted the Russian Premier League’s top player in 2015.
The European heavyweights only conducted limited business on Monday.
German leader Bayern signed former Germany defender Serdar Tasci from Spartak Moscow until the end of the season after losing several players through injury, Barcelona sent right back Martin Montoya to Real Betis on loan for the rest of the season.