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2023 Deadline Day and Summer Transfer Window: Saudi Pro League clubs suddenly shift the landscape

Man Utd and Liverpool among late movers on Deadline Day as Arsenal offload fringe players; Forest sign seven on final day of window; Moises Caicedo and Declan Rice among most expensive players to move during 2023 summer transfer window as Chelsea lead Premier League spending

Ryan Gravenberch, Mohamed Salah and Sofyan Amrabat
Image: Ryan Gravenberch, Mohamed Salah and Sofyan Amrabat

What a window. One of the most memorable.

It was another busy Transfer Deadline Day as Premier League clubs worked hard to get new signings in ahead of the 11pm deadline.

As the window slammed shut, it was calculated that Premier League clubs splashed a record-breaking £2.44bn on new signings during the window - a new high. Clubs also generated a record-breaking £1.36bn from player sales.

The overall net spend weighed in at £1.07bn - the second-highest figure in history, behind last season's £1.29bn.

In total, Chelsea spent a staggering £434.5m on recruits this summer - the most spent by any club during a transfer window in Premier League history.

What happened on Deadline Day?

Transfer deadline: The late deals in the Premier League

  • Ryan Gravenberch - Bayern Munich to Liverpool, £34.2m
  • Sofyan Amrabat - Fiorentina to Manchester United, loan
  • Brennan Johnson - Nottingham Forest to Tottenham, £47.5m
  • Ibrahim Sangare - PSV Eindhoven to Nottingham Forest, £30m
  • Divock Origi - AC Milan to Nottingham Forest, loan
  • Rob Holding - Arsenal to Crystal Palace, £4m
  • Albert Sambi Lokonga - Arsenal to Luton, loan
  • Neal Maupay - Everton to Brentford, loan
  • Luis Sinisterra - Leeds to Bournemouth, loan
  • Alex Iwobi - Everton to Fulham, £22m

Manchester United were among the busiest clubs on Deadline Day, capturing Sofyan Ambrabat on loan from Fiorentina, signing Turkey goalkeeper Altay Bayindir from Fenerbahce, completing a loan move for Spurs defender Sergio Reguilon and re-signing free agent Jonny Evans on a short-term deal as defensive cover.

Premier League champions Manchester City announced a £53m move for Wolves' midfielder Matheus Nunes, who signed a five-year deal at City, with the fee received a club-record sale for Wolves. Joao Cancelo was one out of the door for City with Barcelona completing a loan move for the full-back.

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Brighton pulled off something of a Deadline Day coup with the signing of Spain forward Ansu Fati on a season-long loan from Barcelona.

Liverpool's newest-signing Ryan Gravenberch said he has joined one of the biggest clubs in the world after joining for £34.2m from Bayern Munich. He'll be playing alongside Mohamed Salah, for now anyway, as Liverpool rejected a £150m bid from Al Ittihad - but the Saudi Arabian side are not giving up their pursuit. Saudi Pro League clubs can make signings for almost another week with their transfer window closing on September 7.

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Melissa Reddy says Mohamed Salah could be better paid than both Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar were he to move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad.

Chelsea continued their recruitment drive with the £42.5m signing of forward Cole Palmer on a seven-year contract from Man City. The 21-year-old's arrival was the 12th new recruit at Stamford Bridge this summer and has taken the club's spending under Todd Boehly's ownership group past £1bn in three transfer windows.

Tottenham got their man in the end as Nottingham Forest simply couldn't say no to a £47.5m bid for their star man Brennan Johnson. Forest, who signed seven players on the final day of the window, reinvested that money by signing midfielder Ibrahim Sangare for £30m from PSV Eindhoven before also adding former Liverpool forward Divock Origi on loan from AC Milan and Andrew Omobamidele from Norwich.

Aston Villa moved for defensive cover with the signing of France centre-back Clement Lenglet on loan from Barcelona.

Arsenal did not make any signings on Deadline Day, however they did let go of three players with Rob Holding, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga all departing the club.

The summer in review: Records broken, Chelsea's spending spree goes on and Saudis shift the landscape

The 2023 summer transfer window will be remembered as the moment Saudi Pro League clubs entered - and transformed - the market.

Huge wages on offer from government-backed clubs attracted world stars such as Neymar, Sadio Mane and Ballon d'Or holder Karim Benzema to a league previously way off the radar for European football's top players.

In this photo provided Al Hilal club media center, Neymar holds a Al Hilal shirt after signing with Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Hilal, Fahad Bin Saad Bin Nafel, in Paris, France, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Al Hilal Club Media Center via AP)
Image: Neymar was a star signing for the Saudi Pro League this summer

Ambitious moves for Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe may not have come off but the continued interest in a deal to prise Salah out of Liverpool demonstrates the determination and scale Saudi clubs are operating with. Expect that pursuit to keep on running, with the Saudi window not closing until September 7.

They have already attracted two Reds, with Liverpool earning over £50m for Fabinho and captain Jordan Henderson. The latter's switch was a source of huge controversy, given his past support for the LGBTQ+ community and the human rights record of the country he now plays in.

Roberto Firmino, N'Golo Kante, Allan Saint-Maximin, Riyad Mahrez, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Aleksandr Mitrovic and Aymeric Laporte are other Premier League players to have made the Saudi switch - and they won't be the last.

But Premier League clubs can hardly criticise the vast sums being spent by Saudi sides considering the figures splashed on these shores.

With treble winners Manchester City getting even stronger thanks to the arrivals of Josko Gvardiol (£77.6m), Jeremy Doku (£55.5m), Matheus Nunes (£53m) and Mateo Kovacic (£30m) their rivals have pushed their limits to try to close the gap.

Arsenal broke the British transfer record to sign Declan Rice from West Ham for £105m - and Chelsea soon topped the highest fee paid between two Premier League clubs by sending £115m to Brighton for Moises Caicedo. The value of a defensive midfielder has never been so high.

Declan Rice has signed for Arsenal from West Ham
Image: Declan Rice became the most expensive British player ever this summer

However, while Rice's acquisition was part of Arsenal's aim to upgrade their title challenge with targeted transfers - Kai Havertz (£65m) and Jurrien Timber (£38m) were added too - Caicedo was just one of many new arrivals at free-spending Chelsea.

The west Londoners have now spent over £1bn since Todd Boehly's tenure began last summer, with Romeo Lavia (£58m), Christopher Nkunku (£52m) and Cole Palmer (£42.5m) among the double-figure number of deals for new first-team players in this window.

Add in the vast amount of departures - including Mason Mount's £60m move to Man Utd and the exits of fellow homegrown talents including Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lewis Hall and Callum Hudson-Odoi - and it has been an incredible overall.

 Chelsea Unveil New Signing Moises Caicedo at Chelsea Training Ground on August 14, 2023 in Cobham, England.
Image: Chelsea spent over £400m in the window, with £115m of that total going on Moises Caicedo

To put it all in context, the £435m spent by Chelsea this summer eclipses the £412m their head coach Mauricio Pochettino got to spend across 11 windows during his time at Tottenham.

His old club perhaps took the honour of headline deal of the window, though, with Harry Kane's long-discussed departure in search of trophies finally becoming reality thanks to Bayern Munich striking a deal which could reach over £100m for the England captain and Spurs record goalscorer.

That figure smashed Bayern's own transfer record - but this window was a reminder that, even with Saudi Pro League sides getting in on the act, it is the Premier League which remains the heavyweight champion of the world when it comes to transfer trading.

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