Seven of the year’s 10 most expensive deals involved players moving to England, with Romelu Lukaku’s £97.5m transfer to Chelsea topping the list.
Jadon Sancho’s £73m signing helped make Manchester United the biggest-spending club in this list, ahead of Chelsea.
Of the 20 European clubs to spend the most in 2021, 10 were from England.
Manchester City were eighth on the list, though Jack Grealish’s £100m move from Aston Villa was not included as that was a domestic transfer.
In total, English clubs spent $1,386.2bn (£1.01bn) on international transfers. The next highest outlay came from Italian clubs, who paid $667.7m (£486m), while the United States was the only non-European nation to make the top 10, with a total spend of $159.9m (£116.39m).
English clubs received more than any other country in transfer fees – $548.8m (£399.48m).
Total spending on transfers was $4.86bn (£3.54bn) – a fall of 13.6% from 2020 and 33.8% below pre-pandemic 2019 – though the total number of transfers increased from 17,190 in 2020 to 18,068 in 2021.
For the first time, more money was spent on French players than players from any other country.
Top 20 clubs in Europe by spending on international transfer fees in 2021
1. Manchester United
3. RB Leipzig
8. Manchester City
9. Bayer Leverkusen
10. AC Milan
13. Atletico Madrid
18. Aston Villa
Top 10 transfers
1. Romelu Lukaku (Inter – Chelsea)
2. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund – Manchester United)
3. Achraf Hakimi (Inter – PSG)
4. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid – Manchester United)
5. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea – Roma)
6. Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig – Liverpool)
7. Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid – Arsenal)
8. Amad Diallo (Atalanta – Manchester United)
9. Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes – Real Madrid)
10. Bryan Gil (Sevilla – Tottenham)
Transfers in women’s football
The 1,304 international transfers recorded in 2021 represented an increase of 26.2% from 2020.
A new record for fees was set – the total of $2.1m (£1.53m) up 72.8% on 2020.
Everton’s signing of Sweden midfielder Hanna Bennison in September was the most expensive transfer, while England forward Nikita Parris’ move to Arsenal from Lyon was fifth on the list.