BRASILIA (Dispatches) - Brazil exports more footballers than any other country, but the coronavirus pandemic has caused a plunge in international transfers, hitting the finances of clubs that depend on lucrative deals for their young talent.
The number of Brazilian footballers transferred to foreign clubs fell 62 percent during the European summer transfer window this year, according to an AFP count based on data from the website Transfermarkt.
From June 1 to September 8 last year, 194 players at Brazilian clubs left to play abroad, either on loan or transferred, according to the site.
This year, the number was just 74.
"The transfer market has slowed. Clubs are trying not to spend as much because everyone’s financial situation is complicated,” said ESPN commentator Gustavo Hofman.
Brazil leads the world with 2,742 footballers playing abroad, ahead of Argentina (2,330) and France (1,740), according to a May report by the International Centre for Sports Studies, in Switzerland.
In the country of Pele and Neymar, transfers typically generate around one-fourth of clubs’ income, second only to TV rights as a revenue source.
But the number of transfers is not the only thing that has fallen. Amid the financial uncertainty unleashed by Covid-19, the amount of money involved in the deals has also dropped.
Last year, the three top international transfers brought 77 million euros ($91.4 million) to Brazilian clubs. That included a 45-million-euro deal between Real Madrid and Brazilian club Santos for teenage winger Rodrygo.
This year, the three top transfers have brought less than 62 million euros to Brazilian clubs. In the biggest, Portuguese club Benfica paid 28 million euros to Gremio for forward and national team standout Everton.
The Lisbon club also paid 18 million euros to bring attacking midfielder Pedrinho from Corinthians.