Mancester United last night completed an audacious deadline-day swoop for Monaco striker Radamel Falcao as Premier League clubs, coffers swelled by ever-increasing television income, took their spending for the summer transfer window to a record £861m.
Falcao’s shock £20m loan was one of a swathe of late deals as clubs rushed to beat the 11pm cut-off, with £14m Ajax defender Daley Blind following the Colombian to Old Trafford, United selling England forward Danny Welbeck to Arsenal for £16m and London rivals Tottenham and QPR all taking the last opportunity to strengthen before January.
This summer’s gross total spend was £192m more than last year’s £669m, although the net figure was £410m, £20m less than summer 2013-14. England’s top clubs are enjoying unprecedented revenues, fuelled by a relentless rise in income from domestic and broadcast deals, worth a combined £1.9bn per season to Premier League teams for the current three-year cycle. That growth saw last year’s bottom team Cardiff earn £62m from central distributions, more than the previous year’s champions Manchester United.
United’s deals for Falcao, who will cost a loan fee of £6m plus around £14m in wages, and Blind took their spend for the window to a gross £164m and a net sum of £146m – more than twice as much as any other top-flight club.
Former Atletico Madrid and Porto star Falcao had been tipped to move to Real Madrid earlier in the summer, despite only joining Monaco 12 months ago, but United swooped during the final 36 hours for the 28-year-old amid suggestions of interest from Manchester City and Arsenal. He is expected to earn a Premier League record £280,000 per week during his one-year loan, which gives United the option of buying him for £43.5m next summer.
Versatile Blind, 24, joined fellow Dutchman and new United manager Louis van Gaal in the north-west on a four-year deal, becoming the club’s sixth major summer signing, following Falcao, £60m Angel di Maria, £30m Luke Shaw, £30m Ander Herrera and £16m Marcos Rojo. The outlay saw United’s new stars dubbed Gaalacticos, after their manager and Real Madrid’s so-called Galacticos policy of signing the world’s most famous players.
Arsenal helped to offset United’s outlay by beating rivals Tottenham to the signing of Welbeck, 23, on a four-year deal. He became the Gunners fifth arrival of the window, though manager Arsene Wenger failed to add to his meagre selection of just six defenders, despite interest in Manchester City outcast Matija Nastasic. Mexico striker Javier Hernandez followed Welbeck out of United by joining Real Madrid on loan.
Premier League champions Manchester City agreed to loan striker Alvaro Negredo to Valencia in a surprise move, while defender Micah Richards completed his short-term switch to Fiorentina.
Tottenham did complete a £5m deal for Montpellier midfielder Benjamin Stambouli, 24, while midfielder Lewis Holtby left White Hart Lane for a season’s loan at Hamburg, who have an option to buy the German in nine months’ time.
Spurs recouped £10m on midfielder Sandro, who completed a reunion with Harry Redknapp at QPR, as did former Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar, who has rejoined Rangers on loan from Dynamo Kiev. Redknapp failed with moves for two more of his former players, Jermain Defoe, who remained at Toronto, and Spurs winger Aaron Lennon.
New Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock spent £7m on Wigan midfielder James McArthur and £3m on Spurs left-back Zeki Fryers, while West Ham beat the deadline with the late signing of French midfielder Morgan Amalfitano from Marseille.
Hull continued their summer spree with a club record £10m deal for Palermo striker Abel Hernandez, the signing of West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame plus a loan move for Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez.
Saints continued remodelling their side with the £12m signing of Senegal winger Sadio Mane from Red Bull Salzburg and Belgium defender Toby Aldereweild on loan from Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, with the option of a permanent move.