It has been revealed that the current Manchester United squad is the most expensive squad ever assembled. Analysis by the CIES Football Observatory, a team of researchers based in Switzerland, found that United have invested €718 million (£635m) in their current team.
The research analysed the squads of all the teams in Europe’s ‘big 5’ leagues; the top divisions in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France. Second in the list are Spanish giants Real Madrid, who have invested €634 million (£560m) in their squad, whilst city rivals Manchester City are not far behind with an investment of €611 million (£540m) in playing staff.
After the recent summer transfer window business, it is no surprise that United top the rankings. They broke the world record for the most expensive transfer fee ever with the signing of Paul Pogba, which was rumoured to be in the region of £93 million. They also made expensive signings in midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund and defender Eric Bailly from Villarreal. This saw an increase of €185 million (£164m) from research done by the same group in September 2015, when the Red Devils had the third most expensive squad. At that time Real Madrid were top of the rankings with Manchester City in second.
Premier League teams, with the latest £5.136 billion television deal seemingly burning a hole in their collective pockets, dominate the top twenty of most costly squads. No less than nine Premier League clubs feature, contrasting with just two from Germany and France, three from Spain and four from Italy. Absent from the top twenty, but not far behind in twenty-sixth, are the Premier League champions, Leicester City. Their squad has benefited from €130 million (£115m) of investment; less than twenty per cent of the cost of United’s.
The report could put United manager José Mourinho under greater pressure, with the club sitting in a disappointing sixth position after the first seven matches of the Premier League season. Record signing Paul Pogba has also failed to live up to his large price tag so far, with just a single goal to show for his league performances. They are already five points behind fierce rivals Manchester City, having lost to them in the September Manchester Derby.
However staggering the figures may be, Manchester United can point to justifications for being able to spend such large sums. In May, accounting firm KPMG published a report that declared Manchester United the joint-most valuable football club in the world, along with Real Madrid. They were both valued at £2.1 billion. The report took into account factors such as profitability, stadium ownership, popularity and sporting potential. This dwarfed the valuations of Premier League rivals such as Manchester City, who were valued at £1.2 billion, along with Arsenal.
The latest spending figures are not surprising, but perhaps are an indictment of the era of ever increasing sponsorships and television deals which football is now in.