Clubs are now spending more on salaries for new players than transfer fees, official figures from FIFA have revealed.
The figures show that the total international transfer fees for last year was 4 billion US dollars (£2.6 billion) but the value of the salaries associated with those transfers is 6 billion US dollars (£3.93 billion) over the term of the contracts.
The FIFA transfer matching system (TMS) figures show there was a huge increase in the value of salaries between 2013 and 2014 - a 33-per-cent rise.
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FIFA TMS general manager Mark Goddard said: "Most of the transfers discussed in the media involve large transfer fees, but in reality, only 13-per-cent of all worldwide transfers involve the payment of a fee. Salaries, though, are part of every single contract."
European clubs are the biggest payers, covering 80-per-cent of the salaries registered. Average salaries grow with age, peaking at around 28 years of age and decreasing afterwards.
The figures also show that English clubs spent twice as much as any other country on international transfers during the summer - 996 million dollars (£652 million), compared to Spain's 495 million dollars (£324 million). The figures do not include domestic transfers such as Raheem Sterling's move from Liverpool to Manchester City.
German clubs received 300 million dollars (£196 million) in transfer fees for the players they sold abroad - more than double the previous summer, with 74-per-cent of the money coming from England - a reflection of the recent trend of Premier League clubs looking to the Bundesliga for new talent.
Goddard would not speak specifically about the collapsed transfer of goalkeeper David de Gea from Manchester United to Real Madrid due to a missed deadline, but said both clubs knew the rules.
He added: "The clubs are aware of their roles and responsibility and have gone through 10 transfer windows using this system and we have never had any issues from them using FIFA TMS.
"They know we have a full audit when on the system using the system - it's all transparent and time-stamped from both sides. Transfer windows are a timed event and you can run out of time."