Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Tottenham and Real Madrid spent $828m in cross-border trades which totalled $3.7bn in 2013, according to figures published by FIFA.
The market peaked with Madrid's world record $132m buy of Gareth Bale from Tottenham last August.
"There are just a very few clubs making very big moves and that is skewing the market, but the rest of the market is very stable," Mark Goddard, general manager of FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS), said.
Global spending rose 41% year-on-year according to the annual TMS report, which excludes deals between two clubs in the same country.
FIFA presented the figures after the international players' union FIFPro this month pledged to legally challenge the entire transfer system as a restraint of labour freedom.
A FIFA-funded research center in Switzerland also questioned this week if more trading was good for European football, which paid 90% of transfer fees recorded by FIFA.
"The cloud of economic stakes that hangs over sporting logics is flagrant in many clubs and countries,'' reported the CIES Football Observatory based in Neuchatel, noting a 'trend that is difficult to understand'.
FIFA's report offered no opinion on the multi-billion dollar market, though cited three main reasons for the spending rise: so-called 'super-clubs', the English Premier League's spiraling broadcast rights value and high turnover of coaches at leading clubs.
Monaco's lavish spending - ncluding on Colombia forward Radamel Falcao - followed a takeover by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, while PSG and Man City are backed by the Qatar and Abu Dhabi ruling families, respectively.
Tottenham reinvested after selling Wales winger Bale, while Madrid's commercial income of $703m last season led all clubs for a ninth year.
England was runaway leader in the league table of nations by net spending in international transfers, FIFA said.
English clubs spent $613m more than they received, followed by Turkish clubs' net deficit of $134m.
Agents and intermediaries got $74m from English clubs, and took $216m in total worldwide. That increased by $50m, or 30%, on FIFA's 2012 research.
Spain on top
Despite the Bale deal and Barcelona's reported $74 million fee for Brazil star Neymar from Santos, Spanish clubs topped the net earners in 2013.
Spain collectively received $246m more than it spent - boosted by Falcao's move from Atletico Madrid for a reported $78m. Clubs in Brazil earned $239m and Portuguese clubs got $219m net.
Other figures released by FIFA include:
- Nine countries accounted for $3bn in spending; 14 more - including Brazil, the US and Qatar - spent a further $516m; the remaining $115m was spent by 116 countries.
- 41 FIFA member countries were not involved in any international transfers.
- Of 12,309 transfers processed, only 1,628 involved a fee.
- Brazil was the busiest country: 1,558 transfers involving Brazilian players and 1,402 involved Brazilian clubs.
- Clubs in Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia combined for net spending of $110m, mostly on players near the end of their careers.
- Libyan clubs signed 107 players from overseas, many returning home after political instability.