Premier League clubs are putting their faith in higher wages instead of spending big on transfers, according to analysts.
The top flight's spending on transfers dropped significantly this summer with more than £100million less being splashed out on new signings compared to the last three years.
Analysts Deloitte say around £350million was spent by top-flight sides in this transfer window, 22% less than in 2009 and the lowest sum since 2006.
The Premier League's overall summer transfer spending peaked at £500million in 2008, and was down to £450million last year. In 2006, the figure was £263million.
By contrast, player wages have risen by 11% according to the most recent figures.
Paul Rawnsley, director of the sports business group at Deloitte, said: "In general clubs are more keen to spend money on wages than on transfers.
"The story from the clubs generally is one of relative restraint on spending on transfers and trying to improve the balance.
"I think there are a number of factors behind this - there is the backdrop of Portsmouth going into administration last year and clubs feeling the need to be more prudent.
"Tax rates for high earners have increased and the pound is not as strong against the Euro.
"Then there is UEFA's new financial fair play rules which may also be encouraging greater restraint."
Deloitte also pointed out that Manchester City's transfer spree has been "a key driver" of the overall spending with the club's acquisitions of around £126million representing 36% of total spending.
Rawnsley added: "For the time being at least, we are seeing a new financial reality as clubs strive to improve their financial balance."