By Tony Attwood
As an interlude from the Fifa talk (and there really is rather a lot more of that to come with several interesting questions still unasked, let alone unanswered) let’s look at something quite different.
Who spent what last season.
But before we get moving, a word of warning – there are often wildly different figures quoted for some players, and if you look at a statement below and see that (for example) Arsenal paid £30m for Alexis but find elsewhere that it is £33m, that’s par for the course. Some of the variations in fact are quite enormous, and it is hard to know which figure is right. So take these numbers as approximations – a generalised overview… and I have not included every player bought or sold – someone with a few days to spare could do that, and then cross check the figures too.
Normally the talk has been of Arsene Wenger somehow being a miser and not spending money for the sake of not spending money. But last season he delivered a net spend (to be clear, spending minus intake for sales) of £46m.
Here is the list of Arsenal incomers…
- Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona, £30m),
- Calum Chambers (Southampton, £16m),
- Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle, £12m),
- David Ospina (Nice, £3m),
- Danny Welbeck (Manchester United, £16m)
- Gabriel Paulista (Villareal, £11.3m)
- Krystian Billick (Legia Warsaw, £2m)
Total purchases: Around £90m
I won’t bore you with a complete list of players for every team but will pick out a few salient features before trying to draw a conclusion. And please do note the lists are not complete – just indicators of what went on.
Aston Villa, with a net spend of £6m is obviously of interest, for reasons that escape me for the moment but will probably pop into my head by the weekend.
Their problem was not just a lack of money that the owner was willing to spend, plus a lack of profit, but also a lack of players to sell at a profit. The big price was Carlos Sanchez (Elche, £4.7m), and Carles Gil for £3.2m.
Villa’s spend of £6m looks ok for their league position and the fact that they got to the cup final – and compares favourably with Burnley below.
Burnley, net spend £8m – but compare this with …
Chelsea, net spend £10m
This was achieved by some extraordinary prices gained in the sales and their manipulation of the loan system (which interesting is getting more and more coverage among the more literate of journalists). The incomers included
- Cesc Fábregas (Barcelona, £30m),
- Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid, £32m),
- Filipe Luís (Atletico Madrid, £20m),
- Loïc Rémy (QPR, £10.5m)
- Carlos Cuadrado (Fiorentina £23.3m)
Lukaku selling for £28m, Luiz for £40m, Schürrle for £22m etc etc, helped bring the cost down.
Crystal Palace, net spent £11m
Everton, net spend £33m – which seems an awful lot considering how poorly they did for much of the season. They bought but did not get much for their sales. Some of the buys were…
- Gareth Barry (Man C £2m)
- Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m),
- Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea), £1m
- Brendan Galloway (MK Dons) £2m,
- Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros) £4m
Hull City, net spend £25m – which is a huge amount to get relegation – but it was a widespread spend
Leicester City, net spend £10m
Liverpool, net spend £36m – which is a lot considering how much they sold Suarez for. Here’s some of what came in…
- Adam Lallana (Southampton, £25m),
- Lazar Markovic (Benfica, £20m),
- Emre Can (Bayer Leverkusen, £9.8m),
- Rickie Lambert (Southampton, £4m),
- Mario Balotelli (Milan, £16m),
- Divock Origi (Lille, £10m),
- Alberto Moreno (Sevilla, £12m),
- Dejan Lovren (Southampton, £20m),
- Javier Manquillo (Atlético Madrid, loan)
Manchester City, net spend £57m
- Fernando (Porto, £12m),
- Bacary Sagna (Arsenal),
- Willy Caballero (Malaga, £6m),
- Eliaquim Mangala (Porto, £32m),
- Fernando (Porto, £12m),
- Bruno Zuculini (Racing Club, £3m),
- Frank Lampard (New York City, loan)
- Wilfred Bony (Swansea, £25m)
Manchester United, net spend £122m. The big spenders of the season, which shows just how far they felt they had to go to catch up with Arsenal.
- Luke Shaw (Southampton, £27m),
- Ander Herrera (Athletic Bilbao, £29m),
- Vanja Milinkovic (FK Vojvodina),
- Ángel Di María (Real Madrid, £60m),
- Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbom, £16m),
- Daley Blind (Ajax, £14m),
- Radamel Falcao (Monaco, loan)
Newcastle United, net spend £25m – which in the face of it seems ludicrous. 12 players were sold by Newcastle, but only Debuchy (£12m) and Yanga-Mbiwa (£4.8m) brought in any money.
Queens Park Rangers, net spend £21m. That didn’t work did it.
Southampton, net profit £31m – and still they made progress. 11 purchases and seven sales I make it, although Wiki is unhelpful on Southampton in not actually putting any prices on any placer at all.
Stoke City, net spend £0.5m
Sunderland, net spend £10m
Swansea City, net spend £1.5m
Tottenham Hotspur, net profit £6m. Tottenham sold eight players most notably getting £10m for Sandro and £8m for Livermore and brought in
- Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon, £4m),
- Federico Fazio (Sevilla, £8m),
- Ben Davies (Swansea, £10m),
- Michael Vorm (Swansea, £5m),
- DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders £2.5m),
- Federico Fazio (Sevilla £8m),
- Benjamin Stambouli (Montpellier £4.7m)
Their success was largely down to seeing the benefit of Kane, who it is sometimes forgotten spent a while with Arsenal youth as a youngster before moving into Tottenham’s loan system, going to Leyton, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester, playing 56 league games and scoring 14 goals. The value of a youth policy.
West Bromwich Albion, net spend £13m
West Ham United, net spend £31m including
- Cheikhou Kouyaté (Anderlecht, £7m),
- Mauro Zárate (Velez Sarsfield),
- Aaron Cresswell (Ipswich, £4m),
- Diego Poyet (Charlton),
- Enner Valencia (Pachuca, £12m),
- Joe Cole (Aston Villa),
- Alex Song (Barcelona, loan),
- Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal, loan),
- Diafra Sakho (Metz),
- Morgan Amalfitano (Marseille)
Another club whose figures are hard to verify, but the Guardian has the net spend figure. So they spent that and came 12th. True they have been given their free stadium for the year after next, but even so I am not sure I can see them spending this much again.
Interesting though all the publicity given to Very Fat Sam, as he puffed himself up by quoting his vast achievements for the club getting them to finish 12th. The press swallowed this story utterly, but the fact is Large Sam spent all that money for an improvement of … one position over the previous season.
I think that final point gives an indication of the complexity of analysing expenditure on players. £31m on players (the Guardian’s figure for WHU) for a rise up the league of one place does NOT seem like a good deal, especially when two of the regulars in your side were on loan. But somehow the media never really got that.
The simple fact is that spending money alone is not the guarantee of success in the league. Everton (5th in 2014) spent megabucks and tumbled. Newcastle spent £25m and did the same. Southampton made a profit on players and moved up from 8th to 7th.
It all shows just how foolish the “spend some fucking money” campaign was. Spending money does not bring success. Spending some money wisely, and then having a brilliant tactician in charge of the club, is a more complex, but ultimately much better, formula.
From the Anniversary Files: the Dynasty at work
28 May 1934: George Allison became the manager of Arsenal. Upon the sudden death of Herbert Chapman, Allison had acted as middle-man between the board of Jo Shaw. Shaw immediately (and seemingly happily) returned to his duties with the reserves at the end of his triumphal season, and Allison took on the role, ending after the first post-war season.