Fresh financial power in China helped Premier League clubs make a profit in a transfer window for the first time in January despite English clubs continuing to spend in record-breaking fashion.
Levels of spending for the 2016-17 season have reached a record of almost £1.4billion, thanks mainly to the astonishing £1.165bn forked out in the last transfer window.
Another £215m was shelled out over the past month - a six-year high and the second-highest amount in a January window - with Southampton and Burnley among those to secure big deals for Napoli's Manolo Gabbiadini and Norwich City's Robbie Brady respectively on deadline day.
However, the continued rise of spending in the lucrative Chinese Super League, coupled with high transfer fees from Championship teams, meant top-flight teams received £40m more than they spent, according to analysis from Deloitte Sports Business Group.
Oscar, John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo were among those to depart for China, while Memphis Depay and Dimitri Payet also went for big fees to Lyon and Marseille in Ligue 1.
"Expenditure in January 2017 took the Premier League's total transfer expenditure for the 2016-17 season to almost £1.4billion, an increase of 32 per cent on 2015-16 and far in excess of any other league in world football," Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte stated.
"The spending activity by clubs in the Chinese Super League (CSL) has grabbed many headlines in recent weeks. CSL clubs have spent over £150m so far during their current off-season, which began in November 2016.
"However, with the Chinese Football Association having recently announced that tighter regulations around player transfer and salary expenditure are to be introduced, as well as imposing limits on the number of foreign players allowed, it will be interesting to see whether CSL clubs match this level of expenditure in future off-seasons."
Clubs in the bottom six of the Premier League table accounted for the bulk of spending at £145m.
"As was the case last year, it is clubs in the bottom half of the table who have driven expenditure this January, investing in their squads in an attempt to secure survival. This is no surprise given clubs' reliance on the revenues generated from the Premier League's broadcast deals."
The Premier League was the highest-spending league in European football during the January transfer window, ahead of Ligue 1 (£130m), Bundesliga (£85m), Serie A (£80m) and LaLiga (£20m).
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.