Premier League clubs splashed the cash in the January transfer window (AFP)
The arrivals of Luis Diaz, Bruno Guimaraes and Rodrigo Bentancur in the last few days of the month lifted the league's gross spending to £295 million ($398 million) according to figures from finance company Deloitte.
January 2018's figure of £430 million remains the record but this year's outlay is more than four times higher than last year's figure of £70 million, when the coronavirus crisis hit budgets.
The clubs' net expenditure --. player purchases less player sales -- of £180 million is the highest since the January transfer window was introduced in 2003.
The five clubs currently at the bottom of the Premier League spent around £150 million, more than 50 percent of the total.
Among the big moves, Liverpool signed Porto's Colombia winger Diaz for a reported initial fee of £37.5 million while Newcastle paid an initial £35 million for Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Guimaraes.
Newly wealthy Newcastle also paid Burnley £25 million for New Zealand international striker Chris Wood and signed England defender Kieran Trippier for £12 million from Atletico Madrid.
Dan Jones, head of Deloitte's sports business group, said: "This transfer window indicates that the financial pressures of Covid on Premier League clubs are easing, with spending firmly back to pre-pandemic levels and remarkably among the highest we've ever seen in January.
"The Premier League continues to lead the way globally, retaining its status as the world's biggest domestic football league in financial terms, once again supported by full stadia and securing strong overseas broadcast deals.
"Other large European leagues are also edging back to higher spending, but it is Premier League clubs that have notched up the largest total spend in this transfer window, spending almost £150 million more than Serie A clubs, the closest competitor."
Total gross spending across Europe's "big five" leagues (the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1) reached 735 million euros ($828 million), exceeding last January's total by 460 million euros.
"In stark contrast to January 2021, the wider European transfer market appears buoyant," said Calum Ross, assistant director at the sports business group.
"Many clubs are starting to bounce back from significant Covid-induced reductions, with rising revenues re-activating activity within the transfer market."
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