Revealed: The European clubs with the biggest net spends in the last 10 years

Robin Bairner
Memphis Depay at his Barcelona unveiling, July 2022

Manchester United have the greatest net spend on transfers anywhere in the footballing world over the last 10 years, have spent more than €1 billion on players than they have taken in.

They are one of five clubs to have spent more than €500 million more on players than they have recouped, and the combined number of Champions League titles won by these sides stands at just one.

Indeed, Man Utd, who have a balance of -€1071m stand only just ahead of rivals Manchester City, who post -€1026m and have spent more money than any other club, according to the CIES Football Observatory.

It is no surprise to find Paris Saint-Germain in third spot, with a balance of -€954m.

These three clubs stand far beyond the second bracket of teams, which includes Arsenal (-€558m), Barcelona (-€542m), Juventus (-€482m) and Milan (-€429m).

Net balance (-€m)
Man Utd1071
Man City1026
PSG954
Arsenal558
Barcelona542
Juventus482
Milan429
Chelsea422
Everton407
Aston Villa391

The remainder of the Top 10 is completed by teams from the Premier League, including Chelsea, Everton and Aston Villa.

Indeed, 13 of the leading 20 sides in this regards are from England’s top flight, including clubs that are traditionally lesser lights like Crystal Palace and Brighton.

Transfer gains

Net balance (€m)
Lille342
Lyon225
Genoa210
Udinese175
Atalanta161
Athletic Club115
Hoffenheim111
Saint-Etienne110
Montpellier99
Empoli91

Clubs that have made profits in the transfer market are fewer and less spectacular in what they have achieved.

The top of this list is dominated by clubs from Ligue 1 and Italy, with each league posting four members of the Top 10 clubs.

Lille lead the way by some distance, with a positive balance of €342m, which represents more than twice what they have spent to bring players into the club. Lyon are next at €225m followed by Genoa’s €210m.

It is notable that there is not a single English club in this bracket.