Who has spent the most over the past eight years? Arsenal or Man C?


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By Iver Loadofcash

If you read the comments from readers on Untold Arsenal or indeed on other sites you might have noticed one or two saying that the attacks on Manchester City for spending vast amounts of money in order to win the trophies they have won of late, is a myth, and that Arsenal have out-spent Manchester City.

I have never felt an analysis based solely on money is at all complete, because as we have looked at previously, having a small number of managers in a period of time is invariably a benefit.   For example ,we pointed out in one article Arteta is now the fourth longest serving manager in the PL, 

That and previous articles noted also that changing managers rarely helps clubs progress, but can have the opposite effect as Chelsea have discovered.

Arteta has now managed 231 Arsenal matches.  Guardiola has managed 472 matches for Manchester City, so he has had more chance to build the team he wants – twice as many matches in fact.

And yet in almost every one of the past nine seasons Manchester City have out spent Arsenal.  In fact in that period Mancheser City have spent almost a third of a billion euros more than Arsenal.   True they have received €216m more than Arsenal in player sales, (mostly because having bought valuable players they are then selling valuable players)  but overall that still leaves them spending over €100m more than Arsenal.

However, there is a story going around (and we have had a few readers repeat it in the comments section here) that Arsenal spend more than Manchester City.

Now what always makes me a little suspicious about such commentaries both on money spent and on other issues, is that they never quote their source, but instead just state their notion as if it is a fact accepted worldwide, in the same way that it is accepted that the moon goes round the Earth and the Earth goes round the sun.

But when one spends time looking these things up via a reliable source (we use Transfermarkt – you might use some other source – our readers who claimed Arsenal spent more refused to give either figures or source) we find something different is true.

While waiting for Untold Arsenal to come back online following our upgrading work (still not complete I have to say but at least we are at least back at the moment) I thought I would dig out the actual figures season on season.

We start from 2016/17 when both clubs qualified for the Champions League via the top four.

Across the seasons since then Manchester City have spent around a third of a billion pounds more on players than Arsenal on players and yet we have people writing saying why are you criticising Manchester City when Arsenal spend more?!

As noted above, it is of course true that because Manchester City spend more on players than Arsenal many of these players are worth a lot more than Arsenal’s players have been when they are sold a few years later.  Also the change of manager when Emery was sacked part way through the season, hasn’t helped Arsenal. 

And Pepe is a perfect example of what can go wrong in this regard – coming in for €100m or so and leaving on a free.  Aubameyang also went on a free because of a change of manager as did Mesut Özil, as did Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere…

Here are the details for the two clubs.


Season Expenditure Departures Balance
2023/24 €234.94m €69.20m €165.74m
2022/23 €186.40m €23.80m €162.60m
2021/22 €167.40m €31.40m €136.00m
2020/21 €86.00m €19.15m €66.85m
2019/20 €160.80m €53.65m €107.15m
2018/19 €80.15m €9.10m €71.05m
2017/18 €152.85m €162.40m -€9.55
2016/17 €113.00 €10.35 €102.65
Total €1181.54 €379.19 €783.39


Manchester City


Season Expenditure Departures Balance
2023/24 €259.60 €125.80m €133.80m
2022/23 €155.00m €162.17m €7.17m
2021/22 €138.90m €93.80m €45.3m
2020/21 €173.40m €64.00m €109.40m
2019/20 €169.82m €71.00m €98.82m
2018/19 €78.59m €57.60m €20.99m
2017/18 €317.50m €91.35m €316.91m
2016/17 €216.25m €35.35m €180.9m
Total €1509.06m €595.77m €913.29m


6 Replies to “Who has spent the most over the past eight years? Arsenal or Man C?”

  1. Looking at the past 3 seasons, we have City115 with € 464.34 and Arsenal with € 186.27

    So in the past 3 seasons, Arsenal have spent approximately 2 and a half times less then City115

    So don’t let anyone tell us Arsenal are outspending City115…

  2. May I add that the past 3 years are years of re-building Arsenal – taking a huge hit in squad restructuring costs – while Cit115 on their side just spent to maintain the status quo. And this in a period when inflation on player costs has risen like mad.

    At that point one can reasonably start asking questions like :

    – which club has the most efficient organisation when comparing the spending/result ratio ?
    – is the difference between 1st and second that expensive ?
    – who is the better manager, finding players with the best quality/cost ratio, getting the most out of his ‘less costly’ team ?
    – where does talent stop and money kick in ?

  3. There is more to this.
    Net expenditure is not the only expense on players, in fact it is the least important expense.
    For the true cost of players you need to add wages.
    This is extremely relevant because a player is not attracted by a transfer fees – that is money that goes to the selling club and the agent in most cases.
    Players are motivated to get the best wages they can and it will be a key consideration for them.

    Manchester City’s wage bill runs at around c£450m per year vs Arsenal’s c£250m.
    Over the period you analysed, the difference in wages spent is something like £800m more for Man City.
    It also means that even in the last 3 years, City have massively outspent Arsenal in terms of player cost.

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