LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 24, 2021: FC Porto's Luis Diaz during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 5 game between Liverpool FC and FC Porto at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LFC top with Luis Diaz deal as Premier League returns to “pre-pandemic normality”

A bumper January transfer window is a clear sign that the Premier League is back to normality, according to a leading sport finance expert.

Newcastle led the way by spending £85million on the likes of Bruno Guimaraes, Chris Wood and Kieran Trippier as the league’s gross spending reached £295 million, the second-highest January figure on record, according to estimates from Deloitte.

It is just the fifth time the £200m mark has been breached and ranks behind only January 2018’s £430m figure.

Dan Jones, head of Deloitte’s sports business group, told the PA news agency: “I think what we are seeing is the return of Premier League finances to pre-pandemic normality.

Premier League clubs spent more in January than in any year other than 2018 (PA graphic)

“We have seen record revenues this season and I think the spending reflects that – the second-biggest January window and the third-highest spending across a full season.

“I think the Premier League will keep going from strength to strength. The UK television deals were effectively rolled on on the same terms and the noises we’re hearing about the international deals are very positive, which hasn’t been the case for all leagues.”

The initial £37.5m fee Liverpool reportedly paid for Porto winger Luis Diaz is the highest of the window, narrowly ahead of Guimaraes’ £35m arrival at Newcastle.

The Magpies’ spending power under their new Saudi-backed ownership was one of the major talking points going into January and new manager Eddie Howe has plenty of additional resources at his disposal, even if some of the higher-profile rumours failed to materialise.

Trippier’s fellow defenders Matt Targett and Dan Burn also moved to Tyneside, helping the teams in the relegation battle produce a truly remarkable statistic.

Jones added: “Half of the spending was by the bottom five clubs – and between them, those five clubs (Everton, Norwich, Newcastle, Watford and Burnley) spent more than any other European league.

“Serie A was the closest (behind the Premier League, spending a combined £145m or 175m euros), but just those five clubs spent more.

“With Newcastle, most people expected them to be the biggest spenders and they were, but it’s a proportionate approach. They’ve brought reinforcements across four or five different positions for £85m, rather than a couple of big stars.”

Burnley’s purchase of Holland striker Wout Weghorst for a reported £12m to replace Wood was another factor in that relegation-zone rush, although Everton’s purchase of Dele Alli, along with a loan for Donny van de Beek, was notable for pushing the fee into the future.

Full-back Lucas Digne was another Premier League player to move for more than £20m, from the Toffees to Aston Villa, while midfielder Bentancur’s £19m move from Juventus to Tottenham stood out as the highest of deadline day.