Premier League clubs are being tipped to embark on a trolley dash in the final week of the January transfer window.
Spending in the English top-flight has already passed £100m this month, eclipsing the total outlay in last year’s Covid-affected winter window.
And Deloitte’s Sports Business Group is forecasting a busy final few days before the transfer deadline on 31 January.
“In stark contrast to this time last year, we are seeing the beginnings of a recovery for January spending following the initial impact of the pandemic, with gross spend significantly greater than it was 12 months ago,” said Deloitte’s Tim Bridge.
“This is largely driven by a handful of clubs that are looking to quickly upgrade their squads to improve their chances of Premier League survival or European qualification.
“It is likely that clubs in a perilous position in the league will continue to sign new players, pushing spending up further in this transfer window.”
The £105m already spent by England’s top teams this month is up £80m on the same time last year, when clubs were feeling the pinch from the pandemic.
It has also surpassed the league’s total gross spend last January, of £70m.
Spending has been driven by a handful of teams, with Newcastle United and fellow strugglers Everton investing the most in the hope of securing their place in the top division.
Reduced player availability owing to the wave of new Covid infections in December and January allied to the absence of other players at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) may have made teams reluctant to trade until late in the window, say Deloitte.
“With just over a week to go until the window closes, there may still be a considerable level of activity to come across the Premier League,” Bridge added.
“The current situation is a unique one, with Covid-19 and Afcon absences currently leaving squads depleted and it may well be that clubs delay outgoing transfers until the final days of the transfer window.
“This will increase funds and squad spaces for clubs to bring in new signings only at the very end of the window.”
Newcastle, flush from their Saudi-led takeover last year, have made the most high-profile acquisitions of the current window.
They signed England full-back Kieran Trippier from Spanish champions Atletico Madrid for around £15m and then added Burnley striker Chris Wood for £25m.
Everton bolstered their defensive options with the signings of Nathan Patterson, from Rangers, and Ukrainian Vitaliy Mykolenko for a combined £40m.
Aston Villa signed left-back Lucas Digne from Everton for £25m, while Watford and Wolves have both made multiple minor additions.
Twelve of the 20 Premier League clubs are yet to buy anyone, and there is little expectation of activity at Manchester City or title rivals Liverpool and Chelsea.
North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal could yet enter the market, however, as they jockey for position with West Ham United and Manchester United in the race for fourth.
While spending may have increased from last year, it is still some way off pre-pandemic levels.
Premier League teams spent £230m in January £230m. Their record winter outlay remains the £430m lavished in January 2018.