I never thought I’d say this, but Real Madrid are the heroes of Europe this season.
Last minute comebacks against both Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League this season showed the true grit, heart and determination of a squad crafted by genuine footballing royalty, not by the nuevo riche and their deeper pockets. Like it or not, Real Madrid are footballing heritage. With yet another season gone with no cigar for the oil executives, let’s look at how much they and other European powerhouses have spent and what trophies they’ve gotten in return for it in the last decade.
To be clear, we will be looking at the expenditure of the last 10 summers, so the summer of 2011 to the summer of 2021, and the trophies they won in the subsequent seasons (2011/12-2021/22).
Major Trophies: 6 (6 Premier League)
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €276.67m
Most Expensive Player: Jack Grealish (€117.5m)
Trophies: 20 (possibly 21)
Major Trophies: 8 (4 La Liga, 4 UEFA Champions League); possibly 9
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €137.5m (possibly €122.22m)
Most Expensive Player: Eden Hazard (€115m)
Major Trophies: 9 (9 Serie A)
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €181.1m
Most Expensive Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (€107m)
Trophies: 11 (possibly 12)
Major Trophies: 4 (2 Premier League, 2 UEFA Champions League)
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €395m (possibly €316m)
Most Expensive Player: Romelu Lukaku (€103m)
Major Trophies: 6 (5 La Liga, 1 UEFA Champions League)
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €255m
Most Expensive Player: Ousmane Dembélé (€140m)
Major Trophies: 12 (10 Bundesliga, 2 UEFA Champions League)
Most Expensive Player: Lucas Hernández (€80m)
Trophies: 6 (possibly 9)
Major Trophies: 2 (1 Premier League, 1 UEFA Champions League); possibly 4
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €545m (possibly €272.5m)
Most Expensive Player: Virgil van Dijk (€84.65m)
Major Trophies: 4 (2 La Liga, 2 UEFA Europa League)
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €286.2m
Most Expensive Player: João Félix (€127.2m)
Major Trophies: 8 (8 Ligue 1)
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €176.25m
Most Expensive Player: Neymar (€222m)
Major Trophies: 2 (1 Premier League, 1 UEFA Champions League)
Expenditure/Major Trophy: €671.4m
Most Expensive Player: Paul Pogba (€105m)
As expected, Bayern Munich are far and away the best performers. They have spent the smallest amount (€799m, second place is Liverpool with €1.09b), but have had arguably the most consistent success. Their total trophy haul of 27 is second only to PSG’s 28, but it is notable that PSG have not won any major trophy in Europe. Bayern has the largest amount of major trophies with 12, with Juventus in second holding 9 trophies and Real having the possibility of equalling Juventus if they lift the Champions League once again this season.
Liverpool’s €545m spend per trophy seems ridiculous at first, but is made more realistic once it is realised that the club went trophy-less for the first two-thirds of this time period. Similarly, Chelsea have consistently enjoyed top quality football outside of just a couple of seasons, so their low trophy haul isn’t necessarily a bad thing although it doesn’t inspire confidence.
Manchester United stand out amongst the pack, and not by any close margin. At over €670m spent per trophy, it is frankly ridiculous how much money has been sunk into the club. Fans that keep going on about the lack of expenditure, you certainly can’t say that while looking at figures like this.
Manchester City have spent an unreal €1.66 billion since 2011. It is a truly mind-boggling number. So mind-boggling that there is no object in that price range I could compare the number to and say “Sheikh Mansour could’ve bought this instead!” Despite this, they are without any European success, and the same goes for the similarly overwhelming €1.63 billion spent by Juventus and the albeit lesser but not less by any means €1.41 billion spent by PSG. It is a total of €4.7 billion spent without any European success. Football is won by the deepest minds, not the deepest pockets.
What did we learn here today? Well, nothing extraordinary, but what we have always known, put into cold, hard numbers. You cannot buy your way into football’s elite.