Xherdan Shaqiri: Stoke transfer is just latest in European exodus to Premier League's middle class

Frank Dalleres and Joe Hall

Leading players are increasingly quitting top continental clubs to play for some of the Premier League’s least glamorous outfits as England’s top-flight middle-class flexes its new-found financial muscle.

Graphic by Chris Parmenter

Stoke’s £12m capture of Switzerland star Xherdan Shaqiri from 18-time Italian champions Inter yesterday is just the latest example of the trend, which has distinguished the current transfer window.

Clubs from below the top four are accounting for a greater proportion of the division’s total spend, with the figure rising from 60 per cent to 71 per cent – a five-year high.

Modest teams are also paying bigger fees, with the number of sides who finished in positions 5-17 and paying £8m or more for a player growing from seven to 10 this year. The number that paid a fee of £10m or higher grew from four to six this year.

Read more: Every single signing and club transfer spend in one graph

The trend is fuelled by the increasing financial dominance of Premier League clubs, who occupied 14 of the top 30 in Deloitte’s most recent Football Money List. All 20 were in the top 40.

That dominance is only being strengthened by new broadcasting contracts due to kick in next summer. Domestic television rights alone fetched £5.1bn, a 70 per cent increase on the current three-year deal. The total value is expected to exceed £8bn once all foreign rights are sold.

“The allocation of broadcasting rights to Premier League clubs is now so significant that it’s no surprise that mid-tier Premier League clubs are breaking their transfer records and paying top wages to attract star names to their club,” Ian Clayden, a partner at accountants BDO, told City A.M..

“The new Sky and BT Sport broadcasting rights deal coupled with the much awaited increase in overseas broadcasting rights provides a massive incentive for clubs to invest now, hope they avoid relegation and reap the benefits next season.

“We’re seeing big names come to mid- and even lower-tier teams with increasing regularity and this trend is set to continue.”

Newcastle, who finished just four points above the relegation zone last season, lured £14m Giorginio Wijnaldum, a key figure in PSV Eindhoven’s title winning side, from the storied Dutch team.

The Magpies also raided 33-time Belgian champions for two of their stars, £13m striker Alexander Mitrovic and £8m defender Chancel Mbemba, while French giants Marseille lost £10m Dimitri Payet to West Ham, £8m Jordan Ayew to Aston Villa and free agent Andre Ayew to Swansea.

West Bromwich Albion smashed their club record to sign Venezuela striker Salomon Rondon from Zenit St Petersburg for £12m, while Sunderland paid Dynamo Kiev £8m for winger Jeremain Lens.

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