Money has become an increasingly important factor in the modern era of football.
For the most part, the most successful clubs in recent decades have also been the biggest spenders. However, financial might does not guarantee a side will perform well, with several teams highlighting this truth.
It’s essential that investment is smart, as well as heavy.
Transfermarkt have released a complete list of how much each Premier League club has spent over the last five years. This has demonstrated the point that money must be used wisely, not just in large quantities.
Here, 90min takes a look at England’s top 11 spenders since 2014.
11. Tottenham Hotspur
Net Spend: £95.37m
Mauricio Pochettino is not a happy bunny.
Tottenham Hotspur may be on course to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, but their manager has been outspoken in his frustration at a lack of signings by the club.
Spurs went 12 months without adding to their squad between 2018 and 2019, with Pochettino even admitting he knows nothing about their transfer activity.
Still, the Lilywhites have been brilliant for most of his tenure, shrewd acquisitions like Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura – bought for a combined £52m – helping them overcome the impact of spending £1bn on their new stadium.
Net Spend: £100.12m
When Liverpool forked out £75m to land Southampton colossus Virgil van Dijk in January 2018, they were ruthlessly mocked. No one is laughing now.
They’ve signed the occasional flop, yet most of the Reds’ business has been intelligent, and Jurgen Klopp’s men have been reaping the rewards.
The Merseysiders made over £250m from the sales of Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez, using that gargantuan profit to revitalise the side and seal their place among Europe’s elite.
Chelsea are currently under embargo, but it certainly doesn’t look that way.
While some of their big six rivals are floundering, the Blues have flourished since Frank Lampard’s homecoming in the summer, despite Mateo Kovačić being their only purchase over the off-season.
They found a loophole to bring the Croat back to Stamford Bridge, paying a fraction of what they raked in for the likes of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Nemanja Matić.
Being forced into playing the youngsters may prove the best thing that ever happened to Chelsea.
8. Leicester City
Net Spend: £129.06m
Writing a cheque of £28m for Islam Slimani in 2016 was not too clever from Leicester City. Nevertheless, their activity in subsequent windows has been bang on the money.
James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, Wilfed Ndidi and Çağlar Söyüncü have all been immense for the Foxes, though they came at a bargain total of just under £100m. Talk about getting bang for your buck!
Leicester have likewise been strong in the sales department, earning themselves £175m after convincing Chelsea and both Manchester giants that Danny Drinkwater, Harry Maguire and Riyad Mahrez were all worth the requisite fee.
7. Aston Villa
Net Spend: £160.89m
Aston Villa secured their return to the top flight by defeating Derby County in last season’s Championship playoff final, with the Midlands outfit clearly set on staying amongst the country’s finest.
Aside from coaxing £32.5m out of Liverpool’s coffers for the transfer of Christian Benteke, Villa haven’t had any blockbuster departures.
That didn’t stop them splashing out £133m last summer, though Dean Smith’s men are far from safe as we enter the winter period, standing just three points above the relegation zone.
6. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Net Spend: £205.4m
Wolves went all out to ensure they held on to their Premier League status after arriving in 2018. They made waves that summer, yet people still had relatively-low expectations of the Wanderers. Safe to say, they surpassed what fans thought was possible.
Nuno Espirito Santo knew he could turn them into a fearsome unit in the first division, bringing in wonderfully-gifted players such as Raúl Jiménez, João Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker to propel them into European competition ahead of this year.
Big-money sales aren’t exactly their forte, but that’s a positive – it means their men want to remain at Molineux. Who wouldn’t wish to stay at Wolves and continue rising up the footballing pyramid?
Net Spend: £206.49m
It wasn’t comfortable, but Brighton stayed afloat last term. To guarantee an easier ride this time around, the Seagulls hierarchy handed new boss Graham Potter a sizeable war-chest.
The three most expensive buys in their history were all made in the build-up to the 2019/20 campaign, the south coast side paying approximately £20m for each of Neal Maupay, Adam Webster and Leandro Trossard.
Potter currently has them in eighth position in the table, ahead of Spurs and Manchester United. You can’t argue with the business they’ve done to keep their place in the top flight, having worked tirelessly to get there.
Net Spend: £225.33m
Everton are quite the conundrum.
Watching the Toffees these days can’t be good for the supporters’ health, with Marco Silva squandering the enormous sums of money he’s been handed by the club’s owners.
The Portuguese has overseen a disastrous beginning to the season, which has left Everton as genuine candidates to go down, his team just one place above the trapdoor after 11 rounds of action.
Of course, Silva is not the only one to blame. Fingers must be pointed at the Toffees chiefs, who sanctioned the signings of numerous players who were clearly overpriced. Davy Klaassen, Alex Iwobi, Yannick Bolasie…the list goes on and on.
Net Spend: £263.38m
Agreeing to a £35m deal for Granit Xhaka hasn’t turned out well for Arsenal. All he’s given them is sub-par performances, opposition penalties and an example of how not to be captain.
Unai Emery’s reign in north London now appears to be nearing its end. However, the Spaniard is far from the only man whose time at the Emirates Stadium seems to be running out, with £37m centre-back Shkodran Mustafi having no future in the first-team.
The Gunners haven’t been entirely reckless in recent transfer windows, though. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are a terrifying forward pairing and cost a reasonable £104m between them.
If Nicolas Pépé can live up to his £72m fee, Arsenal have a phenomenal trident leading their attack.
2. Manchester United
Net Spend: £437.37m
Here’s a list of United signings in the last five years who have have not been worthy of their price-tag: Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire, Ángel Di María, Romelu Lukaku, Fred, Nemanja Matić, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Morgan Schneiderlin, Alexis Sanchez, Memphis Depay and Victor Lindelof.
On average, each of those players cost the Red Devils £52m. Let that sink in.
Yes, they recouped most of the cash they spent on Lukaku and Di María, but that doesn’t make the picture any better for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
The recruitment has been spectacularly bad following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, and my goodness it shows in their on-field displays.
1. Manchester City
Net Spend: £601.78m
It’s clear to see why opposition fans were claiming Manchester City’s domestic treble in 2018/19 was not as amazing an achievement as it seemed. With the mind-boggling amounts of money being pumped into the club, they should be overwhelmingly dominant.
The thing is, Sky Blues supporters do not care in the slightest. Pep Guardiola came to England, saw he had a lot of money to spend, and conquered the nation.
It’s telling that City’s second most expensive departure is Shaun Wright-Phillips following the winger’s £28m switch to Chelsea in 2005. They’re all about buying these days, as demonstrated by the presence of eight squad members who were purchased for over £50m.
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