A study compiled by the Geneva based CIES Football Observatory of the five biggest leagues in Europe has found that Manchester City’s current squad is worth over a billion euros, a figure that has never been reached before in soccer history.
The Premier League champions have spent lavishly since the 2008 takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group, which is spearheaded by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. And now they have a first team squad with a combined cost €1.014 billion.
Paris St Germain came second in the survey, with a squad that cost €913 million to assemble. The arrival of Neymar two years ago for a world record fee of €225 million would account for a large slice of the cost of the first team.
Real Madrid were next in third place, with the 13-time European champions having splashed out €902 million.
Manchester United then followed in fourth position in the analysis, having spent €751 million.
The combined €3.6+ billion spent by City, PSG and Man U have accounted for zero Champions League trophies.
Premier League clubs have greater spending power
Overall, the study revealed that there were nine Premier League clubs in the top 21 most expensive squads, in comparison to four clubs from Spain and Italy.
The average outlay to piece a squad together in the Premier League was €345 million, dwarfing the €167 million average both in Serie A and La Liga, while in the Bundesliga the average cost was €124 million.
Ligue 1 was the cheapest division the research found, with an average squad expenditure of €118 million.
Dr. Raffaele Poli of the obsevatory, reflected: “Of course it is the value of the broadcasting rights that the Premier League commands which explains its strong performance. It is the most viewed competition in the world and generates mass income.”
“Also the income from television is more evenly distributed compared to other top European leagues, so more middle and lower ranking clubs have greater financial power.”
Results from the study would prove this point, as the widest gap between the costliest and cheapest squad was found in Spain, where Real Madrid have spent 148 times more than Mallorca. In contrast the amount that Manchester City had paid compared to Norwich, who have the least most expensive Premier League squad, was 32 times more.
“The transfer fees paid by PSG are related more to the owners of the club Qatar Sports Investments. Real Madrid though is different as its one of the biggest clubs in the world with huge commercial endorsements, and they take a huge split from the television rights of La Liga, even though the split is more even now compared to what it used to be.” Dr Poli continued.
“Barcelona could be at the level of Madrid, as they have invested a lot in recent years, but they also have many home grown players including Messi and Busquets. If Coutinho was in the still in their squad, that would have pushed the cost of the squad up to around 840 million euros, ahead of Juventus and Manchester United.”
“There is some pressure on Juventus, as they have spent big on players like Cristiano Ronaldo, but failed to sell Dybala, they are in danger of making a loss which is not the case for the biggest clubs in England and Spain. Although in Italy both the Milan clubs may spend more in the future.”
Poli expects the current trends to continue in the short to medium term future for the biggest English teams, and also believes that the financial divide between the richest and poorest teams will continue. and clubs with the most financial muscle will carry on investing large amounts on transfer fees.
City investment brings success at home
So far the investment from Abu Dhabi United Group has paid off domestically, winning the Premier League four times, alongside four triumphs in the League Cup, and two victories in the FA Cup.
Yet despite the huge outlays on transfer fees, the title of European Champions has so far eluded them.
The closest that they have came to winning the Champions League came three years ago, when they were knocked out at the semifinal stage by eventual winners Real Madrid, after a 1-0 second leg defeat at the Bernabeu.
In the past two seasons City have been ironically been beaten by English opposition in the last eight, by Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.
How City got to a billion
It would come as no surprise that the top 49 most expensive players to ever play for the club have arrived in the past eleven years.
The signing of Kevin De Bruyne remains City’s record transfer fee, after splashing out €76.7 million in 2015 capturing him from Wolfsburg.
City nearly matched that fee this summer with the €70.6 million purchase of midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid, as they look to replace Fernandinho’s aging legs.
Riyad Mahrez’s €68.4 million euro move from Leicester City last year was the sky blues’ third most expensive signing. This is followed by City’s second major summer signing Joao Cancelo, where €65.6 million was paid to Juventus for his services.
Financial Fair Play ruling places shadow over City
It was alleged by German newspaper De Spiegal in leaked documents that City had mislead UEFA over not revealing that money had been directed into the club through sponsors who are linked to Abu Dhabi United Group owner Sheikh Mansour.
In effect this would inflate the commercial revenue of the club artificially, in helping the club meet Uefa’s break even Financial Fair Play laws.
The ruling states that clubs can spend only what they earn, but are allowed to splurge 5 million euros over a three year assessment limit, yet they can also spend a further 30 million over their incomes, as long this can be covered by a club owner or related party.
Recent reports have suggested that City will have to wait until the end of the season until their fate is decided, where if they are found guilty of breaching UEFA rules, they could face a Champions League ban. This could paradoxically have a adverse effect on their ability to attract the best players, and spending their next billion euros.