David Luiz made a surprise return to Chelsea on Wednesday as English Premier League clubs splashed out on the final day of a record-breaking, billion-pound mid-year transfer window.
In late deals, Brazil defender Luiz returned after two years at Paris Saint-Germain, while France midfielder Moussa Sissoko left Newcastle United for Tottenham Hotspur.
The two moves took spending for England’s top flight to about £1.17 billion ($1.54 billion, 1.38 billion euros) — smashing the record of £870 million for a single transfer window set last year.
Enriched by a new £5.14 billion domestic TV rights deal, 13 of the 20 Premier League clubs broke their transfer records during the two-month window, in a spree that put Europe’s other top divisions in the shade.
“This is the world we are in in football,” former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas told the BBC.
“There is that much money flying around since the TV deal that clubs can afford to break their transfer records. They have to keep up. The Premier League is where it is at, clubs have to spend money.”
The big leagues of Italy, Spain, Germany and France spent far less. Italy’s Serie A, the next biggest spender, parted with £595 million (700 million euros), according to industry website transfermarkt.com.
One beneficiary of the Premier League’s first billion-pound spend was shaggy-haired Luiz, 29, who is back just two years after he became the world’s most expensive defender with a £50 million move to PSG.
Luiz was tipped to lose his place to compatriot Marquinhos at PSG, and has returned to Stamford Bridge for a reported fee of around £34 million.
– Eastlands exodus –
“I’m delighted to return to Chelsea,” Luiz told the Chelsea website after signing a three-year contract on the last day of the two-month window.
“We had a fantastic story during my first time at the club and I want to help the team and (manager) Antonio Conte achieve a lot of success.”
Chelsea also landed Spanish left-back Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina for a reported £23 million, while their Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado left for Juventus on a three-year loan.
Sissoko, 27, looked poised to join Everton for much of the day, only for Tottenham to reportedly pip the Merseyside club with a late bid.
He signed a five-year contract and is thought to have cost Spurs around £30 million.
Tottenham also signed France under-21 winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou from Marseille for £11 million, with Cameroon forward Clinton Njie going the other way on a season’s loan.
Everton consoled themselves with a loan deal for West Ham United’s Ecuadorean forward Enner Valencia.
At Manchester City, five players who have fallen out of favour under new manager Pep Guardiola left Eastlands on season-long loans.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart completed his move to Italian side Torino and French midfielder Samir Nasri joined Europa League champions Sevilla.
Wilfried Bony pitched up at Stoke City, French centre-back Eliaquim Mangala signed for Valencia and defender Jason Denayer joined Sunderland.
– Nice move for Mario –
English champions Leicester City broke their transfer record with the £29.7 million capture of Sporting Lisbon’s Algerian striker Islam Slimani, who agreed a five-year contract.
Sunderland also broke their club record by signing 22-year-old Gabon midfielder Didier Ndong from French side Lorient for a confirmed fee of £16 million.
Burnley were another club to make the biggest purchase in their history, buying Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick from Derby County for a reported £10 million.
Mario Balotelli’s miserable spell at Liverpool is finally over after he joined French club Nice on a free transfer.
The wayward Italy forward scored just four goals in 28 appearances for Liverpool and spent last season on loan at AC Milan.
Arsenal’s injury-prone England international midfielder Jack Wilshere, 24, was loaned to Bournemouth after slipping down the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium.
While there was a flurry of activity among English clubs, Europe’s other major leagues saw a relatively quiet deadline day.
In addition to Manchester City’s Mangala, Spanish side Valencia signed Argentina international centre-back Ezequiel Garay from Zenit St Petersburg for a reported 20 million euros.
Espanyol, who are now under Chinese ownership, signed goalkeeper Diego Lopez on loan from AC Milan and secured a loan deal for Mexico defender Diego Reyes from Porto.
In Germany, Werder Bremen signed German winger Serge Gnabry from Arsenal, and Hamburg landed Brazilian defender Douglas from Atletico Mineiro for 10 million euros.