Owing to the tribalistic nature of football, fans of the sport frequently tend to ignore the facts and are usually steadfast in their belief that the club which they support is the best in the world. The basis of their belief stems purely from the passion with which they support the club and is mostly devoid of pragmatism.
Determining the best football clubs in the world, however, can be done much more objective manner if fans can just put their emotions and love for their respective club aside.
So how exactly does determine which is the best club in the world? While trophies are the basis for judging how good a club really is, in the modern era factors like revenue earned, infrastructure, and social media following also play a big part in outlining which are the top-rated clubs in the world.
Keeping all this in mind, here’s a brief look at some of the best football clubs in the world today.
Best football clubs in the world
Real Madrid was declared the Club of the Century in 2000. The Spanish club has won the FIFA Club World Cup titles five times - most by any team. Los Blancos also hold the most UEFA Champions League titles (14), La Liga trophies (35) and are the team with the most followers on Instagram with 136m.
Needless to say, they are one of the biggest football brands and the best football club in the world.
Blessed with a state-of-the-art training ground and stadium, their academy has produced some of the best talents for Spain, including striker Raul and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ferenc Puskas were some of the best players who played for the club.
Real Madrid generated a revenue of over €713m in the 2021-22 season as per the annual report by accountancy firm Deloitte. Their revenue was the second highest in the world only behind Manchester City.
Barcelona FC, with three FIFA Club World Cup titles, five UEFA Champions League trophies, 26 La Liga titles, 31 Copa del Reys and 120m followers on Instagram, are second on our list of best football clubs in the world.
They own one of the biggest stadiums in the world in Camp Nou, which leads to a lot of matchday revenue and also boasts one of the top football academies in the world in La Masia.
A lot of credit goes to Barcelona’s football academy and youth system for shaping Lionel Messi’s career early on.
The club, after reckless spending on transfers as well as player salaries and suffering huge losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, is on a path to recovery and generated a revenue of €638m in the 2021-22 season as per Deloitte.
The last decade has seen Manchester City emerge from the shadows of their once-dreaded rivals Manchester United. Manchester City is yet to win FIFA Club World Cup or UEFA Champions League but they have won four of the last Premier League five titles. On current form, it won’t be long before City add the missing pieces of silverware to their cabinet.
Besides its eight league triumphs overall, City has also won six FA Cups and eight League Cups.
The club also made the highest revenue in the world in the 2021-22 season as per Deloitte. Manchester City earned over €731m in the 2021-22 season, leaving behind the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United.
With six UEFA Champions League titles and a FIFA Club World Cup title in 2019, Liverpool is the most successful English club on the continental stage. The Reds are also just one league title away from matching Manchester United’s record of 20 top-flight titles.
The club reaped the rewards of its popularity and was the third highest earning club globally in the 2021-22 season with €700m. It has over 41m followers on Instagram and is looking to redevelop its famous stadium Anfield, which will in turn lead to more matchday revenue for them.
Bayern Munich is the top heavyweight of Germany’s top division having won the Bundesliga a record 32 times and the DFB Pokal a record 20 times. Two club world cup wins and six UEFA Champions League titles further highlight their standing among the traditional European elite.
They were the sixth-best club globally in terms of generating revenue in 2021-22, pocketing €653m and have over 38m followers on Instagram. They also moved into their stadium the Allianz Arena in 2005 for more matchday revenue and at present boasts some of the best training ground and stadium infrastructure in Germany, if not the world.
Despite not having many trophies to show in the past decade, Manchester United command one of the most loyal fanbases in the world and remain the most successful club in the English Premier League with 20 titles.
They won the Club World Cup in 2008 and have three UEFA Champions League trophies in their cabinet. Good matchday revenues made them earn more than the likes of Paris Saint-Germain last season with €688m. They are the most loved and popular Premier League club on Instagram with over 61m followers.
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)
Paris Saint-Germain is the undisputed kings of French football with 10 Ligue 1 titles. With the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe, PSG currently has three of the best players in the world at the moment in the team. Besides their league titles, PSG also boasts a record 14 Coupe de France trophies and a record nine Coupe de la Ligues.
They have a following of over 70 million fans on Instagram and were the fifth-highest revenue-generating club in the 2021-22 season with €654m. PSG’s stadium also generates a decent amount of revenue and their price on the share market has rocketed more than any other club on this list over the past couple of decades.
Italian club AC Milan, with seven UEFA Champions League titles, is second only to Real Madrid when it comes to winning the premier European trophy. They also have 19 Serie A titles under their belt and five Copa Italias as a part of their trophy cabinet.
Undoubtedly one of the most loved clubs in Italy, they most recently won the Serie A title in the 2021-22 season during which they generated a revenue of over €264m. They have an over 13m-strong fanbase on Instagram and are more beloved than their city rivals Inter Milan.
While fellow Serie A club AC Milan dominated the European competitions, Juventus were busy accumulating trophies in Italy’s top-flight football league.
The Old Lady has won a record 36 Serie A titles and generated a revenue of over €400m in the 2021-22 season despite not winning the Scudetto. Arguably Italy’s biggest football club, they have a record 14 Coppa Italias, two UEFA Champions League crowns and are nearing 60m followers on Instagram.
Chelsea, who compete in the Premier League, are among the few clubs to win Club World Cup, UEFA Champions League and also the top-flight domestic league.
They won the Club World Cup recently in 2021 and have two UCL trophies to show apart from six league titles. A few other trophies which they have won include a couple of UEFA Europa League triumphs, eight FA Cup trophies and five League Cups.
Bought for a whopping $5.4bn by an American consortium last summer, Chelsea is followed by over 39m fans on Instagram and generated revenue of over €568m in the 2021-22 season.
Photo credit: Alamy