With one month of the transfer window left remaining, Premier League clubs are poised to push escalating fees closer to another new record this week.
The projected move of France midfielder Paul Pogba from Juventus back to Manchester United for a world record one hundred million pounds ($132.3 million) would take spending by the 20 teams to almost 600m, adding to the 175m recorded by accountancy firm Deloitte in the January window.
Last year was the first in which annual fees reached one billion pounds.
So far this close-season Arsenal — criticised in the past by many supporters for not spending enough — have recorded the highest individual outlay by paying 35 million pounds for Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka.
But Pogba’s proposed return to Old Trafford would dwarf that and all other sums in the history of the sport, smashing the world record of 85.3 million pounds that Real Madrid paid for Wales forward Gareth Bale three years ago.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is among those who are bemused by how high fees have risen but still believes there is no longer any limit.
“Since I’ve been in the sport I always thought it can’t go any higher up and I’ve always been wrong,” he told reporters.
“Maybe it will be 200 or 300m, who knows?”
Trevor Francis, the first million-pound player in English football back in 1979, said he was surprised the new world record might be set by a midfield player.
“I really thought if (100m) was paid, it was going to be for a striker who could be a match-winner and probably provide you with 30 goals a season,” he told BBC Radio.
“Possibly the only two I thought could command that figure were Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi because people realise they are exceptional talents that will go down in the history of the game.”
With a lucrative new broadcasting deal coming into effect this season and new managers taking over at Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, it is perhaps not surprising that a spending spree has materialised.
Under Antonio Conte, Italy’s head coach at Euro 2016, Chelsea paid more than 30 million pounds for beach of Marseille’s Michy Batshuayi and Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante.
The fee for Kante, who helped Leicester become surprise Premier League champions, clearly illustrated football’s inflation rate — a year ago the midlands club paid barely one-sixth as much for him.
Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was always likely to spend big in attempting to revive Manchester United, with Pogba expected to become his fourth major signing.
Ironically, the most exciting of them could be Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who arrived on a free transfer from Paris St Germain and scored a spectacular goal on Saturday four minutes into his debut.
Pep Guardiola, having already spent 35 million pounds at Manchester City, was reported by British media on Sunday to be on the verge of almost doubling that by signing German forward Leroy Sane from Schalke 04.
At the other end of the spectrum, Burnley and managerless Hull City, two of the newly promoted clubs, have hardly begun recruiting.
Once they do over the next 31 days, the amount of money shelled out will only increase.