New data shows the highest net transfer spends over last 10 seasons

New data has revealed which clubs have the highest net transfer spends in European football over the past 10 seasons.

The figures, curated by the CIES Football Observatory, consider the money clubs have received for transfers and the fees they have paid to bring players in from the 2012/13 season onwards.

Incredibly, six clubs on the list have net transfer spends higher than €500 million in the past 10 seasons.

Transfer fees have risen exponentially over recent times. At the beginning of the century, the prospect of paying more than €100 million for a footballer appeared completely obscene.

Even when Real Madrid forked out £80 million to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, that felt like the absolute limit as far as fees were concerned.

The Portuguese forward was one of the two best players in the world at the time. With Lionel Messi essentially off-limits due to his fierce loyalty to Barcelona, Ronaldo’s signature was the most coveted in world football.

According to Transfermarkt, 10 players have completed transfers for over £100 million. All of those deals have come since 2017. That was the summer Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain for an eye-watering sum of €222 million.

Therefore, it will come as no surprise that PSG feature highly when it comes to the net transfer spends list. However, they aren’t in first place. Let’s take a look at the top five teams before a broader look at the entire list:

5) Arsenal (-€583 million)

In fifth place on the list are Arsenal. Their net spend comes in at €583 million over the past 10 seasons.

They have spent over €1 billion on transfers, receiving €446 million in return. The Gunners’ record signing is winger Nicolas Pepe, who they signed from Lille for £72 million in the summer of 2019.

In terms of outgoings, the club recouped well over £100 million through the sales of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Alexis Sanchez.

4) FC Barcelona (-€650 million)

Barcelona have historically been a significant force in the transfer market despite their current financial predicament.

They smashed their transfer record in 2017 to sign Ousmane Dembele for £135.5 million. That deal was triggered by the sale of Neymar to PSG. Barca again broke the £100 million barrier to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool a year later.

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As per Transfermarkt, they received £68.4 million for Brazilian midfielder Arthur in 2020. That is their second-highest outgoing fee of all time.

3) Paris Saint-Germain (-€941 million)

In third place are the team who hold the all-time football transfer record. As far as net transfer spends go, only two clubs have spent more than PSG over the last decade.

Le Parisiens were taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in June 2011, and quickly began spending their way to football’s elite.

Since 2012, according to Transfermarkt, the club has spent £30m or more on 12 different players. They include the £130.5 million they paid Monaco to complete the signing of Kylian Mbappe in 2018.

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Achraf Hakimi, Edinson Cavani and David Luiz are amongst the players who have moved to the club for big money.

2) Manchester City (-€984 million)

In second place in the list are reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. The Citizens have a net transfer spend of €984 million in the past 10 seasons.

Pep Guardiola’s side broke their transfer record when they paid £100 million to bring Jack Grealish to the club last summer. The 26-year-old became the most expensive British player in history.

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Like PSG, Manchester City have been the subject of a colossal takeover this century. In 2009, City were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group. That has allowed them to spend eye-watering sums on football, and they continue to do so today.

1) Manchester United (-€1.075 billion)

Over €1 billion spent. Barely any silverware to show for it. That has been a common criticism levelled at Manchester United since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.

According to the stats, United have spent €1.545 billion on transfers in the past 10 years. Only Manchester City (€1.699 billion), Barcelona (€1.63 billion) and Chelsea (€1.614 billion) have spent more.

They have broken the £50 million barrier, as per Transfermarkt) on eight different occasions to sign players in the past eight years. Their transfer record remains the deal to bring Paul Pogba to Old Trafford in the summer of 2016.

Who else is on the list?

Italian giants Juventus are below Arsenal on the top 20 list in sixth place. They have spent over €1.5 billion on players over the past 10 seasons, but have recouped €981 million in player sales.

It is similar to Chelsea, who are in 10th place on the list with net transfer spends of €-413 million. They have spent the third-highest amount of money of any club on the list, but have earned over €1.2 billion. In fact, two other English clubs – Everton and Aston Villa – are placed ahead of them.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are in 14th position. They have spent €1.128 billion on transfers but have recouped €781 million.

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