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Which Soccer Clubs Have the Biggest Profits & Losses on the Transfer Market?

From Man United and Real Madrid to the top dogs in Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and beyond, let’s examine net transfer spend by club.

The phrase “DEMO-ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF PLAYER TRANSFERS” is probably not the sexiest one you’ve ever heard. Probably.

But if you’re interested in reckoning with the fundamental components of what really propels the business of soccer around the world this year and over the last several, you could do a lot worse than the so-named CIES Football Observatory report by Raffaele Poli, Loïc Ravenel, and Roger Besson.

Among the discoveries in this conspicuously well-organized document released this week:

  • 2023 marks the first year in which player transfers have generated €10 billion ($10.73 billion) in fees; the report estimates a figure of €12 billion ($12.87 billion)
  • English clubs account for 32% (or €25.36 billion) of global transfer spending over the past decade, more than double that of No. 2 Italy (€11.26 billion)
  • English Premier League clubs incurred the largest losses based on net transfer spending between 2014 and 2013 at €11.11 billion ($11.91 billion)
  • Portugal’s Primeira Liga, meanwhile, set the pace for league-wide transfer profits over that same period with €2.23 billion ($2.39 billion) in the green

That got us thinking: Which clubs in the Beautiful Game — particularly those Saudi Pro League rascals that fire off earth-shaking transfer fees to sign Neymars of the world — are willing to take the biggest losses as it relates to net transfer spend in order to win big? Meanwhile, which clubs have managed the heftiest transfer profits?

Net Transfer Spending by Club: The Biggest Profits

All figures via CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report No. 87. Click here to read the full findings.

2023 Transfer Profit

1. VillarealSpain€129M
2. BenficaPortugal€114M
3. Stade RennaisFrance€103M
t4. PSVNetherlands€98M
t4. Shakhtar DonetskUkraine€98M
6. RomaItaly€95M
7. AtalantaItaly€93M
8. BrightonEngland€89M
9. PalmeirasBrazil€84M
10. SouthamptonEngland€81M

Combined 2014-2023 Transfer Profit

1. BenficaPortugal€764M
2. AjaxNetherlands€434M
3. RB SalzburgAustria€421M
4. MonacoMonaco*€402M
5. Sporting CPPortugal€376M
6. PortoPortugal€352M
7. LilleFrance€349M
8. LyonFrance€336M
9. PSVNetherlands€263M
10. Dinamo ZagrebCroatia€251M
*While located in Monaco, the club competes in France’s League 1.
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Net Transfer Spend by Club: The Biggest Losses

Transfer Losses in 2023

1. ChelseaEngland€557M
2. Al-HilalSaudi Arabia€362M
3. ArsenalSpain€217M
t4. BournemouthEngland€216M
t4. PSGFrance€216M
6. Real MadridSpain€214M
7. NewcastleEngland€209M
8. Al-AhliSaudi Arabia€202M
9. LiverpoolEngland€171M
10. Al-NassrSaudi Arabia€164M

Transfer Losses Combined from 2014-2023

1. Manchester UnitedEngland€1.39B
2. ChelseaEngland€1.03B
3. PSGFrance€1.01B
4. ArsenalEngland€871M
5. Manchester CityEngland€856M
6. NewcastleEngland€671M
7. BarcelonaSpain€663M
8. TottenhamEngland€609M
9. AC MilanItaly€545M
10. West HamEngland€527M

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