Home Sports Manchester United top the charts for football's Covid big-spenders, new report reveals

Manchester United top the charts for football's Covid big-spenders, new report reveals

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European clubs have failed to keep up with their Premier League counterparts in terms of transfer spending during the pandemic a report has found, with Manchester United topping the charts with a net spend of £187million in the past three windows. 

A new CIES Football Observatory study has detailed how Premier League clubs have spent lavishly on new players in comparison to those in LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga, despite the coronavirus pandemic crippling their revenues.

In total, the English top flight net spent just over £1.6billion in the three pandemic transfer windows with Serie A (£255m) the closest European league to follow the Premier League.

Manchester United were the biggest net spenders across Europe during the Covid pandemic

Manchester United were the biggest net spenders across Europe during the Covid pandemic

Sancho finally joined United for £73m after a long-running transfer saga with Borussia Dortmund

Romelu Lukaku complete a sensational return to Stamford Bridge for £97.5m from Inter Milan

Big-money signings Jadon Sancho (L) and Romelu Lukaku (R) put United and Chelsea ahead

EUROPE’S BIGGEST NETSPENDERS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC* 

Team

1. Manchester United

2. Chelsea

3. Arsenal

4. Leeds United

5. Tottenham Hotspur

6. Manchester City

7. Juventus

8. Paris Saint-Germain

9. Aston Villa

10. AS Roma 

League

Premier League

Premier League

Premier League

Premier League

Premier League

Premier League

Serie A

Ligue 1

Premier League

Serie A 

Net spend

£187m 

£176m

£166.6m

£160.6m

£152m

£140.8m

£119.3m 

£114m

£91.9m

£87.6m 

*Data compiled by CIES Football Observatory 

Meanwhile, Ligue 1 (£109m) and the Bundesliga (£6.8m) made very minor net spends in comparison, while LaLiga remarkably made a net profit of £171m. 

England’s dominance is thanks in huge part to the spending of United, who boast the biggest net spend of £187m over the course of the summer 2020, winter 2021 and summer 2021 windows.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been boosted by a series of high-profile signings during these windows, particularly this summer with Jadon Sancho (£73m), Raphael Varane (£42.5m) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£19.8m) joining for a combined total of £135.3m. 

Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek also joined from Ajax last summer for £40m.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are the biggest spenders over the course of the three windows with the Blues eager to hammer home their financial supremacy having been hit by a transfer embargo during the summer 2019 window. 

Chelsea have spent £346m during the pandemic

Blues director Marina Granovskaia has helped balance the books by selling unwanted players

Tuchel (L) has a lavish squad at Chelsea but Marina Granovskaia (R) has balanced the books 

United have spent lavishly this summer, culminating in the return of Cristiano Ronaldo

United have spent lavishly this summer, culminating in the return of Cristiano Ronaldo

The West Londoners have spent £346m on transfers over this period, CIES explains, having landed Romelu Lukaku (£97.5m), Kai Havertz (£89m) and Timo Werner (£53m) for a combined £239.5m among other signings.  

However, Chelsea transfer chief Marina Granovskaia has helped balance the books by offloading unwanted stars like Tammy Abraham (£34m), Kurt Zouma (£30m) and Fikayo Tomori (£25m) for £89m to put the Blues second behind United for net spending, with a total net spend of £176m. 

Manchester City – who spent £100m alone on England ace Jack Grealish this summer – are Europe’s second-biggest spenders during the pandemic (£277m) and could have topped the list had they landed Tottenham striker Harry Kane for a nine-figure fee. 

Again, outgoings have put the Premier League champions below United and Chelsea and make them the sixth-biggest net spenders in Europe on £140.8m.  

Seven English clubs make up the top 10 sides across Europe’s top five leagues for net spending during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Arsenal (£166.6m), Leeds (£160.6m), Spurs (£152m) and Aston Villa (£91.9m) joining Chelsea, City and United.  

Manchester City are Europe's second biggest spenders, but are down in sixth on net spend

Manchester City are Europe’s second biggest spenders, but are down in sixth on net spend

Meanwhile, Arsenal sit third in the net spending charts despite their woeful league start

Meanwhile, Arsenal sit third in the net spending charts despite their woeful league start

Elsewhere in Europe, Juventus are the biggest non-English net spenders during the pandemic, with CIES analysing that transfer expenditure spread over time is the reason behind their net spend of £119,3m.

Paris Saint-Germain, who turned down a massive £172m bid for Kylian Mbappe from Real Madrid in the final few hours of the summer transfer window, are eighth in the net spending charts over the pandemic with £114m.

Jose Mourinho’s Roma occupy 10th position with a net spend of £87.6m during the pandemic.  

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona are notable absentees from the top 10, with the Catalan giants in deep financial turmoil having recently reported a total debt of £1.15bn. 

PSG sit eighth in the charts, having rejected a £172m bid from Real Madrid for Kylian Mbappe

PSG sit eighth in the charts, having rejected a £172m bid from Real Madrid for Kylian Mbappe

Florentino Perez tried to land Mbappe this summer but will have to wait until January

Barcelona are in deep financial trouble having reported debts of £1.15bn

There is an absence of Real Madrid (L) and Barcelona (R) who have been quiet during Covid

Given United’s eye-watering splurge this summer, expectations are high of the Red Devils that they can finally win silverware under Solskjaer. 

Ronaldo vowed that ‘history will be written once again’ following his sensational return to the club, although former team-mate Gary Neville still doubts that United can challenge favourites City and Chelsea for the league title.

‘The big question every Manchester United fan, probably every fan in the Premier League, will be asking will be: is it enough for them to challenge for the title and win the title?’ he said.

United's lavish spending has further increased expectations of finally landing silverware

United’s lavish spending has further increased expectations of finally landing silverware

‘I don’t quite feel it is. I still feel there are a couple of teams that are better. The Premier League I think is the strongest it’s been since the mid-2000s.

‘I think it’s an unbelievably strong Premier League at this moment in time with great coaches, great teams, great players and that’s been strengthened by this transfer window.’

United enter the international break in third place in the Premier League after three games, trailing a resurgent Tottenham by two points.  

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