Chelsea, Man City, Real Madrid: Who are the biggest spenders of the 21st century?

Chelsea, Man City, Real Madrid: Who are the biggest spenders of the 21st century?

Having been taken over by a Saudi-led consortium worth £320 billion back in October, it is inevitable that Newcastle United will soon become one of the biggest spenders in world football.

Once the January transfer window opens in a few weeks, the Magpies won’t be shy about splashing the cash, with boss Eddie Howe set to be handed the largest kitty for new recruits ever afforded to a Newcastle manager.

Which teams, though, have laid out the most on transfer fees since the turn of the century? A new infographic put together by the folks at Transfermarkt documents the spending of the world’s biggest clubs over the past 21 years – and, unsurprisingly, there’s been some serious money parted with.

While the top 10 spenders of 2000 was mostly made by clubs that are still recognisable forces today, fifth-placed Parma now occupy the lower reaches of Serie B in Italy – evidence that major investment doesn’t guarantee long-term success.

A consistent fixture in the top three across the period, La Liga giants Real Madrid frequently dug deep to attract the planet’s top players to the Bernabeu. Most notable is the insane period around 2009 where they spared no expense to land the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema. 



Los Blancos’ total spending for the period of £1.86 billion is only beaten by Premier League pair Manchester City and Chelsea.

Elsewhere, the £1.85bn splashed out by Real’s fierce rivals Barcelona is the sort of spending that looks beyond the Blaugrana moving forwards, thanks to their well-publicised financial woes.

At the very top of the tree, Chelsea have spent a touch over £2bn, the vast majority under the ownership of Roman Abramovich. 

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Forking out £103.5 million on Romelu Lukaku and £72m apiece on Kai Havertz and Kepa Arrizabalaga in their three biggest deals, it’s easy to see how that staggering total has been reached. 

The Blues’ fondness for a big-money purchase, however, hasn’t only been limited to recent years.

In 2011, the west London outfit parted with £52.65m to secure the services of Fernando Torres from Liverpool, while, five years earlier, Abramovich sanctioned a move of around £40m for AC Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko.

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Second-placed Man City, by contrast, have spent the vast majority of their overall outlay in the last five years – having only entered the top 10 in 2008 following the takeover of the club by Sheikh Mansour.

Breaking the £50m fee barrier on no less than 10 occasions over the last half-decade, including the £105.75m capture of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, Pep Guardiola has been healthily backed by the City board.

The other two Premier League sides to make the overall top 10 are Manchester United (6th) and Liverpool (9th).

You can check out the infographic in full below.

Watch: The highest spending football clubs of the 21st century

Here are the overall totals for the top 10 spenders since the turn of the century.

10. AC Milan (£1.26bn)

9. Liverpool (£1.38bn)

8. Paris Saint-Germain (£1.4bn)

7. Inter Milan (£1.51bn)

6. Manchester United (£1.72bn)

5. Juventus (£1.76bn)

4. Barcelona (£1.85bn)

3. Real Madrid (1.86bn)

2. Manchester City  (£1.98bn)

1. Chelsea (£2.07bn)

Given the sheer wealth of Newcastle’s new owners and the increased commercial opportunities that look set to open up at St. James’ Park in the coming months, the Magpies will soon be competing with the biggest spenders in the football world. 

The £2bn spent by Chelsea over the past 21 years is merely a drop in the ocean to the Premier League’s newest owners.

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