Liverpool paid agents nearly £44million in the two transfer windows this season, topping the Premier League table for fees paid to intermediaries for the second year in a row, the Football Association has revealed.
Under FIFA rules, the governing body has been publishing the total payments made by clubs in England’s top five divisions to agents for the last three years, as well as a list of every transfer which involved an agent.
The latest figures, which cover the 2018 summer and 2019 winter windows, show that Premier League clubs spent a combined £261million on agent fees, £50million more than a year before, an increase of nearly 25 per cent.
Having shelled out £27million on agents in 2017/18, thanks to the transfers of Virgil Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, the Anfield club spent £17million more this season, following the big-money moves for Alisson Becker, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Just as in last year’s list, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United complete the top four, with Chelsea spending £27million, City £24million and United £21million.
Everton’s summer spending spree saw them rise to fifth in terms of agent fees on £19million, with West Ham next in line on £14million. Championship clubs paid out a combined £50million, £8million more than a year ago, with Stoke giving agents more than £7million.
League One sides spent almost £6million, with Sunderland accounting for half of the total on their own, and League Two clubs gave agents just under £1million, Northampton being the most generous. Salford were the National League’s biggest spenders, paying out £76,000 in fees.
Overall, English football spent £318million on intermediaries, up £60million on a year ago.
This news comes a day before Premier League clubs are set to meet in London to discuss ways to bring down the amount they spend on middlemen.
The key measures are expected to be a ban on dual representation, the bizarre practice which has allowed agents to represent both the buying and selling club in the same deal, caps on fees and the reintroduction of an exam to become an agent.
Calls for Hudson-Odoi to get more playing time have grown in recent months with the Blues thought to be at risk of losing the 18-year-old, with several leading European clubs said to be chasing the signature of a player whose contract runs out next summer.
For now, however, he is beginning to show his worth, and Hazard gave him due credit after a promising full league debut in which the England international bagged the assist for Chelsea’s first goal.
“Since day one he trained with us, he had great skills,” Hazard said after the game. “If he wants advice, I can teach him, but you know he has everything already.
“I think the guy was waiting to start a game in the Premier League, but he is ready. You can see the way he is taking the ball. He is playing with a lot of confidence.
“He is still young and can improve, of course, but he is already very good. I think he was happy to play today. You know when you are young you just play, and sometimes you try and miss, but the good thing is to give freshness in the team.
“I think Callum can play three games. He can run, he has the legs for 90 minutes. At 28 we are a bit tired at the end, but I think he is still young.
The Chelsea star admitted his young team-mate still has to improve, but added that the whole team will get behind him and help his development.
“As I said, he can still improve but he is in a good team to learn, and we are happy to help him,” Hazard explained.
“I told him if he stays humble at first, for me it is the best thing, to stay humble.”
“Work in training, score goals, and then be happy on the pitch. He can go very far.
Despite the praise, Hazard acknowledged that Chelsea’s depth makes it difficult for manager Maurizio Sarri to guarantee Hudson-Odoi regular starts.
“It is the decision of the manager,” he said. “Of course, when we are playing we want young players and also English players because we are in England. But we also have Willian, Pedro, me – we have not only two wingers, but we have four.
“But his time is coming. He played today. He will play a lot in the future.”
Wolves have smashed their transfer record to sign Raul Jimenez for a fee believed to be £32million.
The striker has made his loan from Benfica permanent and has penned a four-year deal at Molineux.
He is Wolves’ top scorer with 15 goals in all competitions having helped them to seventh in the Premier League and Sunday’s FA Cup semi final against Watford.
“I’m very happy for this permanent deal as I feel that being at Wolves suits me,” he told the club’s website. “I’ve enjoyed my time here.
“I want to make history here at the club. With my team-mates, I want to put the club back into the top places in the Premier League. I think we all want that and have that ambition.”
The 27-year-old has formed a dangerous partnership with Diogo Jota, with the pair involved in 16 goals and 10 assists out of the 27 goals Wolves have scored in the Premier League since the start of December.
Mexico international Jimenez spent three years with Benfica, netting 22 times in 101 games after joining from Atletico Madrid in 2015.
The signing of Jimenez takes Wolves’ spending to around £164million under owners Fosun and they have broken their transfer record five times.
Adama Traore and Jonny were the previous biggest deals at £18million after signing from Middlesbrough and Atletico respectively this season.
Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell said: “The impact Raul has made during his short time at the club has been fantastic and we’re delighted that he’ll be part of the club’s long-term future.
“From the second he walked through the door, he settled straight into the group.
“His goals in the Premier League and FA Cup have been vital to this season’s success and we’re looking forward to seeing him contribute even more during what will be an exciting end to the season in both competitions.
“Raul’s permanent signing shows the ambition of this football club and the determination to make sure the future is an exciting one.”