The transfer window has closed for many leagues, concluding a busy summer of spending — for some. While Premier League clubs spent big, this summer was a big reminder of how much financial inequality exists in the game — not even including the newest rich league, the Saudi Pro League.
Look at last year’s Champions League finalists, for example. Just months after losing the final, Serie A club Inter Milan was forced to sell key players, like Andre Onana and Marcelo Brozovic. Per transfermarkt.us, their total net spend (money received minus money paid) was €68m. Winners and Premier League side Manchester City, on the other hand, have a net spend of -€126.6m — spending heavily on new signings like Matheus Nunes and Josko Gvardiol.
This article will just focus on the teams with the highest net spend in Europe’s top five leagues — France, Italy, Germany, England, and Spain.
5. Bundesliga — Union Berlin (-€29.9m)
Ahead of their first Champions League appearance, German side Union Berlin spent big. Wing-back Robin Gosens became their new record signing for €13m, signing from Inter Milan, while notable signings like Kevin Volland and Diogo Leite also took a substantial chunk out of the budget. In total, Union only spent €32m but sold just €2.1m worth of players.
As is often the case, Bundesliga clubs were among the most financially responsible this summer. Bayer Leverkusen is the only other club with a net spend of more than €-10m, and only eight of 18 clubs had a negative net spend at all. Two clubs (Leipzig and Frankfurt) even made profits over €80m, while, despite signing Harry Kane, Bayern Munich’s net spend was in the green — €18.25m.
4. Serie A — AC Milan (-€45m)
Milan got off to a bad start, selling fan favorite Sandro Tonali to Newcastle United for a whopping €64m. However, as the window went on, they upped the spending, bringing in American duo Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah and Villarreal star Samuel Chukwueze for €20m or more apiece.
The Serie A — once Europe’s financially dominant league — has struggled lately, and, as a result, many teams have to sell their best players to stay financially stable. Only nine of the 20 clubs in Serie A spent more than they sold, with the likes of Inter and Roma losing some key players. It’s no coincidence, then, that three of the twelve clubs that pushed for a Super League were Italian.
3. La Liga — Real Madrid (-€122.5m)
No surprise here. Real Madrid is always one of the biggest spenders in Europe, regardless of their financial situation. Most of the money was focused on one signing: 20-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham was signed for €103m, and has justified his price tag with his performances so far. Rising star Arda Güler was also signed for €20m as Madrid attempted to boost their offense after the losses of Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, and Marco Asensio (all free transfers).
Most La Liga teams spent more than they sold this summer, with 12 of the 20 clubs having a negative net spend. However, the gap in spending is notable — the second biggest net spend behind Real was fellow Madrid club Rayo Vallecano with €-11.6m. Madrid’s title rivals Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, on the other hand, had limited spending, raking in profits of €42.3m and €102m respectively.
2. Premier League — Chelsea (-€197.1m)
Somewhat surprisingly, Chelsea did not have the biggest net spend in Europe this summer. The Blues spent more than any other club in Europe, paying €464.1m in transfer fees to bring in 12 players. They even paid a British record fee to bring in Moisés Caicedo from Brighton. However, they were able to earn some cash back with player sales, notably selling Kai Havertz and Mason Mount, getting €267m total.
While the Premier League might not have the club with the worst net spend, it does have a massive financial advantage. Only four out of the 20 clubs in the Premier League had a positive net spend, with each of the other 16 clubs being at least €15m in the red. For reference, six Premier League teams had bigger net spends than Real Madrid. Key figures like Jürgen Klopp have complained about how much the Saudis spend, but the Premier League should look closer to home first.
1. Ligue 1 — Paris Saint-Germain (-€200.5m)
Despite saying goodbye to many of the club’s overpaid stars and looking to rebuild, PSG still spent lavishly this summer. They earned €90m for Neymar Jr. alone but then spent €95m on Randal Kolo Muani. Manuel Ugarte was signed for €60m, Ousmane Dembélé for €50m, and Bradley Barcola for €45m. More signings were made, and, in total, the club paid €349.5m in transfer fees and recouped just €149m.
Ligue 1 clubs have some of the worst financial situations in Europe, with many big clubs going from title contenders to fighting for survival. Olympique Lyon, for instance, was a regular in the Champions League for years, but they have recently turned to selling their best players to stay afloat — this summer they made €87.8m. In total, just eight of 18 Ligue 1 clubs spent more than they sold.