MANCHESTER - English soccer clubs spent over $2 billion on new signings in 2022 for the first time, FIFA's Global Transfer Report revealed on Thursday, with the number of international transfers of male and female players reaching record numbers.

There were 20,209 international transfers in men's professional soccer in 2022, representing an increase of 11.6% compared to 2021 and even exceeding the levels of 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 2,843 transfers that included fees, the top 100 were responsible for almost 50% of all money spent, with English clubs again topping the list. For the first time, their total outlay exceeded $2 billion, reaching a record high of almost $2.2 billion.

"The two-year negative trend in clubs' spending on transfer fees was turned around in 2022, with last year's total outlay reaching $6.5bn, an increase of 33.5% compared to 2021, yet still below the all-time high of 2019," Emilio Garcia Silvero, FIFA's Chief Legal and Compliance officer, said.

Women's professional football continued to grow in 2022. The number of international transfers last year was almost double the figure of 2018.

In 2022, the number of clubs involved in international transfers went up from 410 in 2021 to 500 last year, a 22% increase," Silvero said.

"All of this reflects the impressive strides being taken as more and more female players continue to turn professional. Some 1,555 international transfers were recorded in 2022, an increase of 19.3% compared to the previous year, while a new high of 119 associations were involved in international transfers."

(Reporting by Peter Hall Editing by Toby Davis)