Although no analysis of football financials is anything near complete without including wages, that doesn't mean comparing transfer fees is a complete waste of time. If nothing else, they're a good indicator of how much money a club's spending related to everyone else.
And CIES Football Observatory, whom we've cited in the past, had recently released data on the transfer fees that went into each squad in the top five European leagues. Where did we come? The full list can be found here, but I'll list the top ten...
- Real Madrid: €536 million
- Manchester City €435 million
- Manchester United €395 million
- Chelsea €376 million
- Paris Saint-Germain €366 million
- Tottenham Hotspur €250 million
- Barcelona €237 million*
- Bayern Munich €233 million
- Arsenal €216 million
- Juventus €214 million
*It's unclear whether the Neymar confusion has affected this figure, but I'm inclined to think it's probably somewhat higher in actuality.
Chelsea are in fourth, right behind Manchester United -- who overtook the Blues after buying Juan Mata from us. Paris Saint-Germain, however, are hot on our heels and I'd expect them to be ahead of us at the end of the next transfer window unless we do something delightfully mad come summer, which is not entirely out of the question.
What's really interesting about this chart, though, is the absolutely ridiculous gap that exists between PSG and everyone below them. Spurs are here, of course, because of their summer shopping spree with the Gareth Bale cash, but immediately below them are a pair of interesting names: Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Both clubs are known for internal development plus spending when necessary, and both have been hugely successful on the back of that model without spending as much on transfer fees as the top clubs.
Granted, when wages get put back into the picture the situation would change a great deal and both clubs would jump up (their home-grown stars have big salaries, after all), but the simple fact of the matter is that their blend of youth talent and big stars is always going to provide for more financial flexibility than simply buying everyone. It's the path Chelsea are hoping to go down eventually, but we're making rather slow progress at the moment.