The big signing of the summer may have been a player leaving the Premier League for La Liga, but this transfer window proved one thing conclusively: that the English top flight is the biggest football league in the world.
And it is preparing to get so much bigger, thanks to the new three-year TV deal that starts this season.
Nine Premier League clubs either equalled or broke their transfer record in what was a profligate shopping spree -- even by the standards of the richest football league in the world. Despite Bale's £85.2 million transfer out of the league, the Premier League net spend on transfers this summer was a record £397.48 million, according to The Times.
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Of those record transfer fees, Arsenal's acquisition of Mesut Ozil was perhaps the most interesting. While £42.5 million plus a reported wage of £140,000 a week for a player that Real Madrid felt was surplus to requirements after the arrival of Bale seems too much, Ozil was no panic buy as he has been tracked by Arsene Wenger since 2007. His price was perhaps bumped up by late interest from Paris St-Germain, but Arsenal have done well to grab the 24-year-old German playmaker despite offering him lower wages than the French champions.
His arrival at The Emirates made Arsenal one of the highest net spenders over the window -- and goes some way to appeasing fans who saw 23 players leave the club permanently this summer, and six on loan.
While Manchester United and Arsenal -- by default or design -- have brought in just two players each in this window, the top four clubs continue to be the biggest net spenders: the £205.8 million the window cost them is more than half of the total outlay of all 20 clubs.
But their spending is not dissimilar to previous seasons and it is perhaps the spending of the rest of the league that has caught the eye.
Tottenham have been well documented in bringing in seven new players to replace Gareth Bale -- but they have banked £6.4 million in profit from their transactions this season, so they do not affect the total net spend. They do however have other problems: that of a bulging wage bill. They have moved 24 players on -- through loans and sales this summer. But the seven big new players alongside Emmanuel Adebayor's reported £170,000-a-week, or £8.8 million a year, wages will make for uncomfortable reading for Daniel Levy.
Sunderland, meanwhile, were very busy but they have seemingly managed to balance the wage bill despite bringing in 14 new faces, and only outlaid a net spend of £1.4 million, so the risk of Paolo Di Canio's revolution is purely a footballing one.
The starkest change, though, is the spending carried out by the clubs coming up into the top flight from the Championship.
In 2011, QPR, Norwich and Swansea had a net spend of £22.8 million between them. The following season Southampton spent more than that alone (£24 million) as the promoted clubs almost doubled the net spend to £41 million.
And this year the new clubs have gone even further. Cardiff City, backed by a Malaysian consortium, have a net spend of £32.25 million this summer. What is perhaps most astounding is that Crystal Palace and Hull -- both of whom have professed to wanting to keep their budgets tight -- have spent £13 million and £10.55 million respectively. This year the promoted clubs have spent £55.8 million, which is close to the total net spend of the entire Premier League in 2009.
Crystal Palace, too, have taken a risk that they reportedly had no intention of taking. Ian Holloway's side has a net spend of £12.05 million for the window, almost double that of much-criticised QPR two years previously. And the 14 players brought in to the South London club will radicalise what was a very average wage bill for the Championship.
But -- thanks to the TV money -- they can afford it. If Palace finish bottom at the end of the season -- and I am not saying categorically that they will -- they stand to earn £20 million more than last season's bottom club, QPR. The risk is large for Palace in stepping up their wage bill, but it is not a reckless risk -- particularly as parachute payments have spiralled as well: relegated clubs next season will receive £16 million more over four seasons than QPR, Reading and Wigan who were relegated in May, according to SportingIntelligence.
Perhaps the largest unseen impact is on the rest of English football -- and it is not good news.
There has been a worrying drop in money being paid by top-flight clubs to lower league clubs for their talent. In previous years there has been an even split between foreign imports and domestic signings coming into the Premier League, but this window saw a lot less of the money staying in England: figures from Deloitte produced just before the window closed suggest that while £445 million of the money went overseas, just £90 million was staying at home. Just 15% of new Premier League players will be making the step up from the Championship, League One or League Two, compared to 59% from abroad, according to The Times.
That means less English players in the top flight, and fewer players for England manager Roy Hodgson to choose from.