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October 2016
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How much did the Arsenal squad actually cost and did we get value for money?

By Tony Attwood

We have shown in the past season that only about a quarter of all expensive new players deliver in the first season with the new club.  Around a quarter never deliver anything like the standard expected.

We have also shown that although having the top scoring players in the league in the squad can help a team win the league, it happens far less than one might imagine.

Much of the problem arises because managers tend to put up with under performing expensive players for longer than they should, simply because it is their own judgement on the line.  They spent the money, they are desperate for the player to show their judgement was right.

But now let’s look at it from another point of view.   How much each first team cost last season, again where the club ended up.  The cost figures are in millions of Euros and come from CIES Football Observatory.

The league shown in the final positions for last season, with three extra columns.  The cost, the position in the cost league (showing Man City as 1, with the most expensive squad, and Bournemouth at 20 with the least expensive.  Then finally the “Cost/Place” column.  This is the league position minus the cost position.  So a team like Leicester which spent relatively little and so came 17th in the cost league, but actually won the premier league, gets +16.  They obvious came in far above their cost point.

Newcastle, Villa and Chelsea could be said to have spent money the least wisely, getting far less benefit in terms of league position than they might have expected.

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Cost Euro Cost pos Cost/Place
1 Leicester City 38 23 12 3 68 36 +32 81 72m 17 +16
2 Arsenal 38 20 11 7 65 36 +29 71 305m 5 +3
3 Tottenham H 38 19 13 6 69 35 +34 70 231m 6 +3
4 Manchester C 38 19 9 10 71 41 +30 66 560m 1 -3
5 Manchester U 38 19 9 10 49 35 +14 66 533m 2 -3
6 Southampton 38 18 9 11 59 41 +18 63 182m 7 +1
7 West Ham 38 16 14 8 65 51 +14 62 143m 9 +2
8 Liverpool 38 16 12 10 63 50 +13 60 344m 4 -4
9 Stoke City 38 14 9 15 41 55 −14 51 74m 16 +7
10 Chelsea 38 12 14 12 59 53 +6 50 407m 3 -7
11 Everton 38 11 14 13 59 55 +4 47 141m 10 -1
12 Swansea City 38 12 11 15 42 52 −10 47 81m 15 +3
13 Watford 38 12 9 17 40 50 −10 45 49m 19 +6
14 West Brom 38 10 13 15 34 48 −14 43 84m 14 0
15 Crystal Palace 38 11 9 18 39 51 −12 42 97m 13 -2
16 Bournemouth 38 11 9 18 45 67 −22 42 36m 20 +4
17 Sunderland 38 9 12 17 48 62 −14 39 130m 11 -6
18 Newcastle U 38 9 10 19 44 65 −21 37 157m 8 -10
19 Norwich City 38 9 7 22 39 67 −28 34 55m 18 -1
20 Aston Villa 38 3 8 27 27 76 −49 17 126m 12 -8

Arsenal as we can see came in second in the league but only spent the fifth greatest amount, so got some good value for money.  But we should also look at the distance Arsenal was behind the big hitters in terms of spend.  The top spending clubs are very spread out – it is not just a matter of a million or two:

  • Manchester City – 560m euros
  • Manchester United – 533m euros
  • Chelsea – 407m euros
  • Liverpool – 344m euros
  • Arsenal – 305m euros

So we could say that given the huge sums spent, the clubs that spent more than Arsenal (with the possible exception of Liverpool who spent only a little more than Arsenal) should not only be above Arsenal in the league, but way, way, way above Arsenal in the League.

There is of course a rough and ready relationship between spending and position in the League, but as Leicester in particular showed, it is not at all accurate.

This is particularly interesting because there is a greater link between money spent in other countries, but even here there is a clear indication that just spending money is no guarantee of success.


  • Real Madrid – 587m euros – 2nd
  • Barcelona – 394m euros – 1st
  • Valencia – 226m euros – 12th
  • Atletico Madrid – 180m euros – 3rd


  • PSG – 525m euros – 1st
  • Monaco – 152m euros – 3rd
  • Marseille – 61m euros -13th
  • Lyon – 51m euros – 2nd


  • Man City – 560m euros – 4th
  • Man U – 533m euros – 5th
  • Chelsea – 407m euros – 10th
  • Liverpool – 344m euros – 8th

I think these tables show that although spending money can help, it does not always give the results expected.  Among the top four spenders in these leagues we have teams that have come in 8th, 10th, 12th and 13th.

“But,” it is argued, “it can’t do any harm.”  But I really think it can – as I argued above.  Buy the wrong players and it can hinder progress and make the club worse than not buying.  Of course none of us can prove this, but the figures above show that simply buying is not good enough.   I think it is fair to say that three of the top four spenders in the Premier League all might have expected to win the league in 2016, but they came in 4th, 5th, and 10th.  

So now we have three different analyses that show that spending money on players does not directly relate to league position.  I am not sure how many more I am going to have to produce before people who are fixated by the buy-buy-buy propaganda of the bloggettas and their journalist friends down the pub start to get the point, but I will keep on looking for other analyses.

Meanwhile here is the list of Arsenal’s players from last season.   I am sorry this list is in pounds and the previous ones in euros.  I take them from the best sources I can find to stop people saying that I am manipulating the figures to my own benefit.  

David Ospina – £3m
Petr Cech – £10m
Kieran Gibbs – Free
Per Mertesacker – £8.5m
Gabriel Paulista – £12m
Laurent Koscielny – £10m
Nacho Monreal – £8.5m
Calum Chambers – £15m
Hector Bellerin – £375,000
Tomas Rosicky – £7.5m
Mikel Arteta – £10m
Jack Wilshere – Free
Mesut Ozil – £42.5m
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – £12m
Aaron Ramsey – £5m
Santi Cazorla – £15m
Mathieu Flamini – Free
Francis Coquelin – £750,000
Mohamed Elneny – £7m
Olivier Giroud – £12m
Theo Walcott – £9m
Alexis Sanchez – £35m
Danny Welbeck – £16m
Joel Campbell – £750,000

There is one PS due here however.  Last year Andrew pointed out how squad values relate to league position, and found a strong correlation.  I am not arguing that this is wrong – squad values are quite different from squad costs, which is what I am looking at.  Bellerin’s cost above is rather different from the value of around £35m he was given when Barcelona were apparently making a bid.

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16 comments to How much did the Arsenal squad actually cost and did we get value for money?

  • tunnygriffboy

    Just think if we could add a couple more players of Alexis and Ozil quality to that list of players. It would be some squad.

    We were 2nd last season. Imagine if we just had a couple more top players in certain positions.

  • Jambug


    As I have shown, over and over and over again, spending big, over a sustained period of time GUARENTEES success.

    Yes, like everything in life there are anomalies.

    Yes, spending big this year doesn’t always guarantee success this year. But spending big, this year, next year, the year after, and so on, such as has been done by Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City, means it WILL happen eventually. Hence, until the freak that was Leicester Cities triumph this year, the only 3 Clubs to win the PL since our last success are: Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City. The 3 mega spenders.

    Also, assuming an even distribution of titles, because there are 3 mega spenders, it should still be 3 years between titles.

    Yes, it is true, get it wrong and you could spend big and not win the title for 4, 5 or maybe 6 years, but this does not prove that massive constant spending is flawed.

    Take United. They where left in the shit by Fergie. Mistake 1. They appointed Moyes. Mistake 2. They let him spend the money. Mistake 3. They replaced him with LVG. Mistake 4. They let him spend the money. Mistake 5.

    So it is possible to fail despite mega spending, but they WILL be back.

    The fact is, only one team can win the PL and a mega spender has won it 11 out of the last 12 seasons.

    Now, with the increased amount of money available to the rest of the PL Clubs there could, I repeat could, be more anomalies, but would you bet that that trend will not be continued over the next 12?

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    After signing Granit Xhaka and look to sign Takuma Asano, Arsenal have only one more summer signing left to sign if the Boss takes to look to bring in 3 new bodies this window is to be taken with seriousness

    But who will that striker signing be? Morata, Lukaku or Hal Robinson-Kanu? Hum, they are all good to lace the Gunners’ boots. But if the media reports on Espnfc and Sky Sports are to be thought on with some believes, it maybe Alvaro Morata Arsenal will sign after all.

    Oga Tony, it’s very true all that you’ve said on the only 3/4 of the new players signed by the top six Premier League clubs save those signed by Arsenal hardly made it in their 1st season at the club.

    Leicester have so far recruited 4 new players including Ahmed Musa of the Super Eagles of Nigeria so far this summer window. And Man Utd have signed 3 and are awaiting to sign another one. While Man City have signed 2 new ones and Spurs and Chelsea have concluded 1 signing each while Liverpool have made 2 new singings so far.

    Let’s wait to see how many new players the big six clubs in the Premier League will sign this window in their quest to guarantee themselves winning the BPL title and other titles in this coming season. The most important signing to do is to sign right which Arsenal are doing to upgrade a department in the playing position in the squad that requires an upgrade. And not only that, the new import or imports must be such that will not unbalanced the balanced squad on ground. This the trap some big clubs have fallen into which have seen them missed out on the Ucl qualification last season.

  • omgarsenal

    The real question is whether spending 50+ million euros on a player guarantees you anything.When we see the likes of Bellerin,Koscielny, ElNeny, Cazorla, Ospina, Monreal, Coquelin,Ramsey, Giroud, and Campbell outperforming, many of the superstars we are constantly berated for not buying, then it is time to realize that developing our own talent and polishing up relatively unknown transfers offers a viable alternative to spending millions on players who are gambles at best and often washouts in a short period of time.
    Arsenal is NOT one of the rich clubs that can afford anyone at any price, nor do they wish to be so. Wenger has always maintained that getting it right in the transfer market requires patience, skill, great scouting, careful long term planning and a fair bit of luck as well. BUT the aaa, the mediocre media,the I want it now generation and the pseudo-supporters know better than anyone else about running a professional Football club….afterall haven’t they been right 100% of the time?

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Again you are missing the point.
    Your wish that had we added a few more players in the transfer window we could have won the title.I think its only an assumption.It has been explained here in so many articles at UA that spending alone cant win you the title for example
    United City Chelsea Liverpool all spended more than Arsenal last year but all finished below us.
    If you still persist with your notion of spending pls keep in mind the following points

    Getting a player needs 3 things to happen

    1 Arsenal finds a targer player and it is zn upgrade to an existing player
    2 The club which owns the player wants to sell and the price is acceptable to both clubs
    3 The player wants to join Arsenal.

    Untill above 3 things dont happen the transfer is not possible.

    Remember Arsenal have tried to sign Suarez Higuain and supposedly Benzema but it did not happen for various reason.
    Liverpool refused to sell Suarez. Higuain preffered to play in Italy for domestic reasons and Benzema refused to leave Real as reported in the media.
    Tuny we live in the actual world and not in a dreamland like the posters at Legrove who think transfers are just like a click on the keyboard.

  • nicky

    Spending alone will not win you the title ,but as has been seen with leicester ,spending well along with good coaching and managment and a great team spirit can.Im just a little worried why we cannot attract the top players these days .We have so called the best manager best stadium and lots of funds now to spend so not sure what the problem is.
    Omg, no spending 50m doesn’t guarantee you anything ,but as shown with Ozil and sanchez spending that amount does give you a massive chance of improvement.
    And giroud has had a good euros with France and wether he has been played differently or coached differently has looked different player.We still need a class centre forward to compete with him just in case he gets injured or has long period of not scoring like last year.

  • nicky

    Sorry to add ,you mentioned patience.Fans have been patient and some of that patience is starting to run as was evident last season at the emirates along with time for our manager.He is mid 60’s and in the last year of his contract.

  • nicky

    Who is this Nicky who talks a lot and pretends he’s me.
    I wouldn’t mind if I agreed with what he says but I don’t.
    Can’t you tell him to clear orf or change his name? 😉

  • nicky

    I would change my name but its my name .Sorry you dont agree with me .I dont particularly agree with you but we are on a message board and views are varied.

  • nicky

    OK, if you want it like that.
    Arsene Wenger is in his mid-60’s and on the last year of his contract. Many of us give him unstinted loyalty and support.
    We hope that his current contract will be extended.

  • Nicky – it is not the name that is the problem it is the way you change your email address that keeps flashing up an issue on my screen when I am moderating.

  • nicky

    I have only one email address which I registered with Untold some years ago. It begins “arjay….”

  • Mick

    New nicky
    May I suggest you use a capital N when you comment so we can differentiate between old (literally!) nicky and you.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I must say I sometimes get very confused with something new Nicky is saying and then I wonder: is this the real (old) Nicky we know?

    As the old Nicky is the longest on her and also the oldest internet Gooner we should keep the old Nicky with just Nicky as the name.

  • Nicky

    Who are these two imposters? Luckily I agree with everything they both say

  • Dr Duh

    The interesting thing is that Arsene clearly has a system by which he values players and is very resistant to ‘paying over the odds’. I would love to know how his system works, since unlike baseball, football’s subtlety and fluidity does not lend itself to statistical analysis enough to produce stats like VORP or WAR that would allow us to compare and value players more objectively.

    On the one hand Arsene’s refusal to over pay makes sense, although we are a club of means, our resources are finite; limited to what we generate. In other words we don’t have an oil daddy to give us $50 for the powder room whenever a bauble catches our eye. We can splurge on an Ozil or a Sanchez, but only when they are ‘on sale’, we can’t just throw money at their club until they hand over their best player.

    That’s all well and good, but what happens when inflation drives the price beyond Arsene’s valuation? Does his valuation model take into account the prices that others are willing to pay? Does it discount the mega-clubs as price outliers?

    It’s one thing to pass on trying to buy Pogba at 100MM but when we can’t buy Lacazette or Draxler because their teams want Ozil money that makes things quite a bit harder. When teams want Ozil money for prospects like Gabigol then the world has gone crazy.

    Maybe Arsenal needs to start buying teams in football hotbeds and taking third party ownership in promising 9 year olds. What a repulsive thought!