LONDON - Player wages have eaten up most of the money involved in international transfer deals during the past two years, according to Fifa TMS figures.
Its Transfer Matching System (TMS) estimates that since 2013 some 57% of funds have gone into stars' pockets.
Actual transfer fees have accounted for just 41% of the cash, and agent commissions the remaining 2%.
Chelsea splashed out £21m to sign Spanish star Pedro from Barcelona this summer.
Football clubs in Europe account for four-fifths of the total money spent on wages in those global deals.
The new figures refer to international transfers from one country to another, and do not cover "domestic" transfers between two clubs in the same nation.
In cash terms it means that over the past two years, from international deals, $16.5bn (£10.8bn) has gone on player salaries, $12bn in transfer fees, and $700m to player agents.
"Most of the transfers discussed in the media involve large transfer fees, but in reality, only 13% of all worldwide transfers involve the payment of a fee," said Fifa TMS General Manager Mark Goddard.
"Salaries, though, are part of every single contract."
English spending doubled
Increasingly lucrative TV deals have given top-flight English clubs the financial muscle to bring in a plethora of global stars from overseas.
Big signings this summer have included Manchester City's purchase of Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg for £52m and Nicolas Otamendi from Valencia for £32m, while rivals Manchester United bought Anthony Martial from Monaco for £36m and Memphis Depay from PSV for £25m.