Manchester United have emerged as the team with the highest net spend in football in the last decade, according to CIES Football.

The Red Devils have a balance of €1.07 billion, having spent a total of €1.5 billion on players between 2012 and 2022 while raking in €470 million from player sales.

Manchester United’s ambition to win silverware since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson has seen them break the bank on players like Paul Pogba, Antony, Harry Maguire, Romelu Lukaku, Angel Di Maria and Jadon Sancho.

However, their policy to recoup the amounts have often been criticised as seen in the case of Pogba who was signed for €105m from Juventus but walked out of the club for free in the summer of 2022.

Big spenders Manchester City are second on the list of football clubs with the highest net spend in football over the last decade.

Owned by Sheikh Mansour’s City Football Group, the Cityzens have a net balance of €984 million on the back of investing 1.7 million euros in iconic players like Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne. Jack Grealish is City’s most expensive player having arrived from Aston Villa in a record €117.50m deal.

Their spending sprees aside, Man City have also been one of the most profitable English teams as they have sold players for a collective amount of 715 million euros.

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint Germain come in the third position with a net balance of 941 million euros. The club has spent €1.4 billion on players after being bought by Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, through Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s Qatar Sports Investments.

PSG’s buying power has seen them attract the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi to the Paris-based club to compete for silverware in France.

Paris Saint Germain, besides buying players, have made a profit of 504 million euros from selling players between 2012 and 2022.

FC Barcelona and Arsenal complete the top five list of teams with the highest net spend in football in the last decade.

Barcelona, in the news of late due to their transfer activity amidst a massive debt, have tallied a net balance of €650 million. 

The Catalan club spent in excess of 40 million euros to sign Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde in the summer of 2022, thus taking their expenditure to €1.6 billion. Conversely, they have garnered 980 million euros from player sales with Neymar’s €222 million move to PSG in 2017-18 headlining the record departures list.

Lastly, Arsenal’s net balance is estimated at €583 million. The Gunners have signed players for a collective amount of 1.03 billion euros, with Nicolas Pépé being their record signing at €80 million.

Arsenal, on the other hand, have received 446 million euros from letting players depart from the club in the last 10 years.

Highest net spend in football in the last decade (in euros)





Manchester United (ENG)

1.5 billion

470 million

1.07 billion

Manchester City (ENG)

1.7 billion

715 million

984 million

Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)

1.4 billion

504 million

941 million

FC Barcelona (ESP)

1.6 billion

980 million

650 million

Arsenal (ENG)

1.02 billion

446 million

583 million

Juventus (ITA)

1.5 billion

981 million

561 million

AC Milan (ITA)

884 million

452 million

432 million

Everton (ENG)

911 million

482 million

429 million

Aston Villa (ENG)

701 million

277 million

424 million

Chelsea (ENG)

1.6 billion

1.2 billion

413 million

Author: William Paul

Featured photo: AFP / MANAN VATSYAYANA