Agents' fees for international transfers in 2023 are nearing $1bn (£800m), according to football's world governing body Fifa.
In its 'International Transfer Snapshot', collated after the transfer window in all the major European leagues closed, Fifa said the overall spending on deals where players switched countries between 1 June and 1 September was $7.36bn (£5.9bn) in the men's game, up 47.2% on last year.
It was $3m (£2.4m) in the women's game - an increase of 140.8%.
While some of the detail, especially around the growth in spending of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), could have been predicted given the Saudi Pro-League's increased recruitment drive, the amounts now being paid to agents is growing hugely.
Fifa says the total amount paid to agents during the recent transfer window was $696.6m (£558.3m), which "corresponds to nearly 10% of the total spending on transfer fees". This compares to 5.8% in 2013.
Fifa adds that despite over three months of 2023 still remaining, the "total amount of service fees for club agents since the beginning of the year has already reached $865m (£693.25m). This is the highest total ever recorded and 38.8% higher than the whole of 2022".
Given the figures do not include transfers that take place within a single country, Fifa concedes the overall amounts paid to agents is likely to be "substantially higher".
Fifa's new regulations around agents which, in part, aim to curb "excessive fees" come into force on 1 October.
Saudi presence felt
In the report, Fifa confirms a total of 10,125 international transfers took place in the men's game during the summer window, a rise of 2.2%, with spending increasing by more than 45%.
Over 75% of the international transfers involved at least one European club.
However, the Saudi Pro-League's presence is being felt.
Fifa confirmed it is "the first time ever that spending on transfer fees by clubs from any confederation other than Uefa surpassed 10% of the global total".
Aside from the $1.98bn (£1.6bn) spent by English clubs, Saudi Arabia had the largest spend of any country. The $875.4m (£701.6m) its clubs spent - a figure that has risen already due to deals done since 1 September, including Demarai Gray's move from Everton to Al-Ettifaq - was a 3,100% rise on a year earlier, underlining the change in strategy around football recruitment.
Women's game sees growth
The growth in the women's game is also translating into increased transfer activity.
A total of 829 moves were conducted internationally between June and the beginning of September, a 19.1% increase.
The vast majority - 84.4% - involved out-of-contract players, but a record $3m (£2.4m) was paid in transfer fees, a 140.8% increase on last year.
FIFA confirmed 'at least one agent' acted on behalf of a club in 73 of those 829 transfers. The total amount paid to agents involved in women's deals was $900,000 (£721,300), more than 30% of the overall spend.
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