·14 September 2023
·14 September 2023
GIVEMESPORT VIDEO OF THE DAY
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Transfers play such a huge part of what it means to be a football fan these days. But big spending doesn't always equate to success on the pitch – just look at Chelsea... And every season, there are numerous examples of players who move for extortionate fees and end up proving to be extremely bad value for money.
With that being the case, it's interesting too look at what teams across the globe have spent the most money on transfer fees when building their current squads. Information gathered by the CIES Football Observatory has allowed us at GIVEMESPORT to compile a top 20 list covering this. Bare in mind, the figures give include add-ons regardless of effective payment.
Just pipping Borussia Dortmund to the post, Wolves kick off our list as the team with the 20th most expensively assembled current team in world football – which is quite the statement considering they were in the Championship as recently as 2018. Key to their growth, has been super agent Jorge Mendes, whose contacts have helped bring a number of big Portuguese signings to Molineux.
Despite that influx of talent, Wolves have struggled in recent times and former manager Julen Lopetegui walked on the dawn of the new Premier League season partly due to a lack of spending in the recent market. Perhaps he should have focused more on the players already in his team – they cost a total of £312.13m to get there after all.
When looking at Monaco's current squad, what catches they eye right away is that they've spent £155.63 on signing strikers who are currently in the squad. This figure would have been bumped up by the £38m spent on Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun this summer, but Wissam Ben Yedder and Breel Embolo also arrived in the past for notable fees.
Having finished sixth in Ligue 1 last season, the French outfit will hope to perform much better this term – especially considering only Paris Saint-Germain have spent more on assembling their team. At least Monaco sit top of the division for now; albeit with just four games played.
Nottingham Forest's Matt Turner is doing well at his new club
Since their promotion to the Premier League, Nottingham Forest have been operating like a mini Chelsea, signing player after player in the transfer window. You could argue, though, that they've been doing a better job at this than the Blues, however, as they at least achieved their goals by avoiding relegation last season.
Last term, they signed a whopping 30 new players in the summer and winter market combined. While this time around they've already added to that with 14 arrivals (including loans). Taking all that into account, they've done more than enough to place themselves into the top 20 on this list.
It'll be a surprise to many that Barcelona feature so low on this list, but their financial struggles in recent times have been well documented. As an example of how careful they now are in the market, this summer the only transfer fee they paid was around £3m to sign Oriol Romeu from Girona.
Barca being Barca, however, that didn't stop them from still landing some big names. For example, João Félix and João Cancelo arrived on loan. While Ilkay Gündogan followed the likes of Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Franck Kessié, Memphis Depay and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the recent club trend of signing players on a free transfer.
It's a sign of just how fast the rise of the Saudi Pro League has been that Al-Hilal pop up on this list. They lead the way in terms of squad cost for club's in the Middle East right now after an unprecedented summer of spending across the whole region.
Yassine Bounou, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sergej Milinković-Savić, Rúben Neves, Malcom, Mitrović, and of course Neymar all stand out as high-profile arrivals this past window. In the years to come, it feels likely that the Saudi club and others will have an even more prominent role on lists such as this one.
While Atlético Madrid won't like it, rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona are viewed as the two biggest teams in Spain. With that in mind, though, it's interesting to see that Diego Simeone's current squad cost more to assemble than Barca's.
This summer, Atléti have had to be pretty careful with their spending as the only notable transfer fee was spent on Antoine Griezmann turning his loan into a permanent switch, while the likes of César Azpilicueta and Caglar Söyüncü arrived on free transfers. Perhpas they've been stung by huge the fee spent on Felix who is now playing for Barcleona on loan...
Last season, Napoli were arguably the most exciting team to watch in Europe as they blitzed the competition in Serie A to win their first Scudetto since 1990. This success after 33 years of failure was led by key men Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
The Georgian winger is a great example of the club's impressive scouting department, as he was signed for just £10m but could be worth nearly 10x as much in today's market. Kim Min-jae was also key to the success last term, joining the summer prior from Turkish club Fenerbahce for only £15m, before being sold to Bayern Munich a year later for around £43.
Since their promotion to the Bundesliga in 2015/16, RB Leipzig have finished inside the top six every season, which shows how well they've been able to construct a squad. Their ability to buy young talents for a reasonable price and sell for profit has been key to this.
For instance, this summer Joško Gvardiol, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Christopher Nkunku have all been sold to Premier League clubs for a big profit. This will allow the club to reinvest in a fresh generation of quality players. Striker Benjamin Šeško is one name to keep an eye on, as he joined recently and will likely command a huge transfer fee in future years.
For a club that has so regularly underperformed in the Premier League in recent years, constantly flirting with relegation, it's quite damning to see Everton feature so highly on this list. Indeed, you'd think with all the spending, they'd be able to produce better quality and more consistent results on the pitch.
In recent years, however, the club has not been able to spend quite as much. This is because inflated sums were spent on underperforming players, with little profit made on any sales, leaving the club vulnerable to the rules of Financial Fair Play. £15m spent on Neal Maupay, who scored just one goal in 32 games before heading to Brentford on a season-long loan a year later is one of many examples of poor spending.
Financial issues have been a problem for Juventus in recent years with alleged false accounting and market manipulation leading the entire board of directors to resign in 2022, including Andrea Agnelli and Pavel Nedved. With this in mind, the club have evidently not been able to spend freely of late.
Even so, their current squad still includes some high-profile players signed for notable fees. Dušan Vlahović, who arrived from Fiorentina for £66.6m in 2022, springs to mind. But the club's two record signings Cristiano Ronaldo and Matthijs de Ligt have both been sold post-pandemic, which suggests a need for cash coming in as opposed to going out.
The biggest story surrounding Bayern Munich this summer was regarding their pursuit of Harry Kane. In the end, they managed to get a deal across the line for an initial €100m (£86.4m) plus add-ons. Having lost out on other targets such as Kai Havertz and Declan Rice in the summer, the Bundesliga outfit would have been delighted to have won the race for the Spurs forward.
The English striker is now the club's record signing and goes into the current team alongside other notably expensive arrivals such as De Ligt, Kim, Leroy Sané and Dayot Upamecano. After just scraping a league triumph in dramatic fashion last term, Thomas Tuchel will hope the summer activity will have been enough to guide the club to success in a more convincing manner this season.
It speaks to the incredible growth of the Premier League over the past few decades that Aston Villa rank higher on this list than German giants Bayern Munich. What's more a team that was struggling in the division at the time managed to tempt an esteemed manager such as Unai Emery to Birmingham. Since that arrival, the Villans have gone from strength to strength and will hope to continue on that upward trajectory with a few big names arriving this summer.
Like his manager, Pau Torres arrived from Villarreal (costing an initial £33m), while a club-record £51.9m was also spent on Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen. Add deals such as this to former signings who are still part of the squad such as Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martínez, Diego Carlos and Emi Buendía and it's not hard to see why the team cost so much to assemble.
West Ham should obviously be proud of their success last as they won the Europa Conference League, but when you see how much they've spent building their current squad, perhaps it wasn't quite the fairytale story some have painted it to be. After all, none of the teams they'd played along the way in Europe make the top 30 on this list from CIES Football Observatory.
It's not as if finalists Fiorentina have the sort of finances to go and sign Lucas Paquetá for £51m, or Gianluca Scamacca for £35.5m, as well as Nayef Aguerd, Thilo Kehrer, and Alphonse Areola all in the same summer. In fairness, their most recent spending on the likes of Mohammed Kudus, Edson Álvarez, and James Ward-Prowse has been funded by the sale of Declan Rice.
Newcastle United have, on the surface at least, appeared to have spent their money pretty wisely since PIF took over in 2021. However, seeing as they rank ninth on this list, they've made some pretty expensive acquisitions already as Eddie Howe looks to build a squad that can one day challenge for league titles again.
Instead of drawing headlines on one huge £100m signing, the Magpies have been able to fly under the radar somewhat with a number of less expensive (but still significant) transfers such as Sandro Tonali (£60m), Alexander Isak (£63m), and Bruno Guimaraes (£37.89m).
Los Blancos are undoubtedly still one of Europe's biggest and most prestigious clubs, but their ranking of eighth on this list shows how the days of the Galácticos are now somewhat a thing of the past. Of course, summer signings such as Jude Bellingham proves they still have the financial muscle to flex their strength in the transfer window from time to time but they can't dominate the market quite as they once did.
For instance, after spending so much on the young Englishman, they didn't have the funds to go out and sign a flash new replacement for departing striker Karim Benzema. Instead, they opted to sign 33-year-old Joselu on loan from Espanyol with an option to buy. In the past, they probably would have landed Kylian Mbappé but it seems will have to wait a year before completing that deal.
Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have won it all – from the Premier League to the Club World Cup and every other major trophy available to them – and have done so despite working on a tighter budget than many. Indeed, under FSG you always get the sense that the Reds need to sell before they can buy and that was apparent this summer.
The departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to the Saudi Pro League, for instance, helped facilitate a move for new midfield duo Alexis Mac Allister and Szoboszlai. At the very least, they did hold firm and refuse to sell star winger Mohamed Salah despite strong interest from the Middle East.
Spurs spent around £1bn building the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium and they will no doubt hope future revenue from the venue will help bring in enough money to spend big on many exciting future deals. And considering Daniel Levy is known for being rather careful with his chequebook, it may surprise some to see the club feature so high up on the list.
However, former manager Antonio Conte wasn't shy about demanding more new signings and players such as Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Dejan Kulusevski, and Cristian Romero all arrived during the Italin's tenure for notable fees. Current boss Ange Postecoglou has since inherited the expensively assembled squad.
Once upon a time, the Gunners had to be extremely frugal with their spending as Arsène Wenger and co were financially restricted after spending billions building the Emirates Stadium. Well, those days appear to be over with owner Stan Kroenke happy to splash the cash on some big deals of late.
The £100m (potentially rising to £105) spent on Rice this summer springs to mind, as Mikel Arteta looks to build a team capable of winning the Premier League. They have at least just binned off £72m flop Nicolas Pépé, which helps keep this total squad cost down by a significant chunk.
French giants PSG are one of Europe's elites backed by the wealth of the Middle East and they have turned that money into Ligue 1 dominance, winning the division eight times in the last decade. However, they haven't been able to turn that into anything of note on the biggest stage, with an elusive Champions League title still out of reach.
Huge money was spent on Neymar to help them achieve that goal, but having failed to do so, he left this summer. This means the total current squad cost is light £200m with the Brazilian no longer involved in Paris. Mbappé's £166m move in 2017 still keeps the total value nice and high at €1bn...
Pep Guardiola's men accomplished almost all they could within club football last term as they won the treble. But it's no secret that without the takeover led by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, and all the money that brought with it, the club wouldn't be competing on the global stage as they are.
To give them some credit, they have at least spent that money pretty wisely. Indeed, snapping up Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund striker in an initial £51m deal (albeit potentially costing as much as £85.5m including agents fees and other add-ons), seems like a bargain considering what he and the club have achieved. Even the signing of Kevin De Bruyne for £55m seemed questionable at the time but now looks to be another genius move. Deals such as this are why, despite their success, Pep Guardiola's team didn't cost the most in Europe to assemble.