How much has each club spent in putting its squad together?


By Tony Attwood

The CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post comes up with a variety of statistical analyses of football which other commentators don’t get near, quite simply because they don’t, won’t or can’t do the research.  If you don’t subscribe to their weekly emails but find statistics more interesting than mindless opinion, or ludicrous transfer speculation CIES posts are certainly worth looking at  (and they have not paid us to write that!)

Take for example, their current article which presents the top 100 teams in the world having invested the most on transfer fees including add-ons to recruit players currently in their squad.

It turns out that four teams have invested at least one billion euros (approximately £850m) each.  Three of these are Premier League clubs (Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City) and one is French (Paris St-Germain).  Fifth in the list is Arsenal on 836 million euros (£719m – the pound equivalent being rounded up or down to the nearest million.  After all no one wants to be bothered with small change).

19 of the current Premier League clubs are included in the top 100 spending clubs – the one PL club that is missing is not surprisingly Luton Town, who have spent some of their income from promotion to the PL in much-needed upgrades to their ground.  That’s a good idea since at least it means that their fans will get a longterm benefit from the promotion, no matter what happens to the team.

Only one of the AA (Artificial Arabian) teams has got into the top 100, Al-Hilal who came 18th.  However they have a squad that is now worth more than Barcelona (yes honestly), Nottingham Forest (who have spent only 10 million euros less than Barcelona), and just a little further above Wolverhampton, Borussia Dortmund, AFC Bournemouth, and below them AC Milan.

Besides which Barcelona have now been told to cut their spending on players again.   Their previous limit was 649 million euros (£557 million) – which they got away with after selling their future TV rights.   That then came down to 400 million euros (about £343).  Now it seems they can only spend half their actual income buying new players.

The aforementioned Saudi club Al-Hilal invested more than Leicester City and Ajax, but not the Premier League clubs except for the aforementioned Luton Town.    But in another interesting analysis, we are told that the top spending club for goalkeepers was Liverpool, for defenders was Manchester United, for midfielders was Real Madrid and for strikers Paris St Germain.

So let’s go back to the three Premier League teams that have invested at least a billion euros (approximately £850m) each: Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

In the last three seasons Chelsea have come fourth, third and 12th.  Manchester United have come second, sixth and third.   At the moment Chelsea are still 12th, Manchester United are 11th.

But what of cumulative spending: where were these teams placed in last season’s spending tables?

  1. Chelsea – £546.1m.  Final league place 12th
  2. Manchester United – £217.3m.  Final league place 3rd
  3. West Ham United – £173.3m.  Final league place 14th
  4. Arsenal – £171.8m.  Final league place 2nd
  5. Newcastle United – £165.5m.  Final league place 4th
  6. Nottingham Forest – £164.6m.  Final league place 16th
  7. Tottenham Hotspur – £158.9m.  Final league place 8th
  8. Wolverhampton Wanderers – £158.2m.  Final league place 13th

So we can see yet again that really there isn’t that much link between high spending and success in the Premier League.   What does make a difference, could be incoming sums of money far in excess of those received by other clubs (as for example, Manchester City) … but there again it seems Chelsea have had this and have not made a significant impact on the league of late.  Although to be fair they did win the Champions League in 2021.

So let’s have a look, as a final point, about the last time clubs won any of the major trophies.

  • Manchester City: The triple 2023
  • Chelsea: Champions League 2021
  • Manchester United: League Cup 2023
  • Arsenal: FA Cup 2020
  • Newcastle United: Inter Toto Cup 2007
  • Tottenham Hotspur: Football League Cup 2008
  • Liverpool: League Cup and FA Cup 2022.

That rather reminds us of the basic facts which show us one thing.  Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur still have quite a bit of catching up to do.

One Reply to “How much has each club spent in putting its squad together?”

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