According to the CIES Football Observatory, the Red Devils have spent more than £1.3 billion on players since the summer of 2012, earning £397 million in revenue, yet have only won four major titles in that time, none since 2017.
The report also demonstrates the Premier League’s financial supremacy across Europe, with England accounting for six of the top ten teams in terms of expenditure. The numbers also demonstrate that Everton and Aston Villa have suffered greater losses than Chelsea and Liverpool while producing significantly poorer performances.
Initially focusing simply on the Premier League part of the study, Man City trails their rivals United in the second position – both in England and in Europe – in terms of transfer losses, posting a loss of £832 million.
Despite this, City has won 11 trophies in that time, nearly three times as many as United.
During that period, United has invested heavily in players like Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire, Jadon Sancho, and Fred.
Arsenal is, maybe surprisingly, third in the list of English clubs with a loss of £492 million, although they have the same number of trophies as Manchester United, with four.
Everton and Aston Villa are next, with staggering losses of £362 million and £358 million, respectively, ahead of Chelsea, who have won six trophies (including two Premier League crowns and the Champions League) yet have incurred a loss of £349 million.
West Ham, who haven’t won a major trophy but are in the Europa League knockout stages this season, is eighth, ahead of Liverpool, who have lost £293 million on their two trophies, the 2019 Champions League and the 2019-20 Premier League title.
A significant portion of that was aided by the £105 million (plus £37 million in bonuses) sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January 2018.
Newcastle and Tottenham round out the top ten, both with losses of more than £280 million, while Leicester City (winners of the Premier League and FA Cup) are only 12th on the list, with a negative balance of £232 million.
Southampton, on the other hand, has made a loss of only £51 million, and Norwich has the second-best record with a transferred loss of only £3.3 million.
Despite this, Brentford is the only current Premier League club to have profited from moves in the last ten years, earning a total of £36 million.
Meanwhile, in Europe, PSG comes in third place, trailing only the two Manchester clubs in terms of overall transfer losses – a total of £796 million.
This includes a reputed £198 million purchase for Neymar from Barcelona in 2017 and a rumored £163 million signing of Kylian Mbappe from Monaco a year later.
Barcelona is fourth, having spent heavily on players such as Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, and Coutinho, while Juventus are fifth, having won nine Serie A titles in a row before Inter’s success last season.
AC Milan is ninth in Italy with a £365 million loss, while Inter is 11th.
On the other end of the spectrum, reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille has made the most money through moves in the last decade, with a positive number of £295 million.
Lyon is second with £208 million, followed by Genoa in Serie A with £169 million.
The CIES Football Observatory is a study group under the Swiss-based Centre International d’Étude du Sport that was founded in 2005. (CIES). It specializes in football statistical analysis, particularly in demographics, transfer values, and performance.
The data was gathered with the utmost care by cross-checking all possible sources, whether official or unofficial and includes any eventual add-on costs contained in the deals, regardless of their actual payment. Within the constraints of the available data, income from sell-on fees is also considered.