Where Messi plays, it gets really expensive

The data analysis platform Football Benchmark in its “The European Champions Report 2023” evaluated the annual salary costs of the top European clubs over the past few years and created a top 20. SPOX show them to you.

Incidentally, FC Bayern ended up with salary costs of 324 million euros in the 2021/22 season. This reduced spending by seven percent compared to the previous season.

20th place: FC Barcelona 2016/17 – 377.9 million euros

In Neymar’s last year at the Catalans, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and the Brazilian are likely to have accounted for the lion’s share of salary costs. Barça has not been idle on the transfer market either, signing André Gomes, Paco Alcácer and Samuel Umtiti in the summer of 2016. The departure of Dani Alves provided savings.

19th place: Real Madrid 2018/19 – 394.2 million euros

With the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real saved enormous salary costs, but there were still enough top earners like Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos or Karim Benzema. Thibaut Courtois and Vinícius Júnior were also signed.

18th place: Manchester City 2020/21 – 400.4 million euros

Rúben Dias, Nathan Aké and Ferran Torres were added as new burdens on the club’s treasury, but savings were made with the departures of Leroy Sané, David Silva and Nicolás Otamendi. The bottom line is that not much has changed (see below).

17th place: Manchester City 2019/20 – 400.6 million euros

Rodri and João Cancelo were brought in from Pep Guardiola for a lot of money, with Danilo and Douglas Luiz leaving a bit of savings. Since City’s 2018/19 payslip didn’t make it onto this list, it’s clear spending has skyrocketed by over €20m.

16th place: Liverpool FC 2019/20 – 401.9 million euros

The Reds did not make any big purchases before the season, Takumi Minamino and keeper Adrián are likely to have cost less than the departures of Danny Ings or Daniel Sturridge. But in view of the great sporting successes, the existing stars naturally wanted to be rewarded princely.

15th place: Real Madrid 2020/21 – 403 million euros

No expensive signings, Achraf Hakimi or James Rodríguez disappeared from the payroll. Accordingly, it became a little cheaper for the royals than last year (see below).

14th place: Real Madrid 2016/17 – 406.1 million euros

Investments were made in the middle of the Champions League triple: Álvaro Morata came, as well as Martin Odegaard and Mariano Díaz. The change of Jesé and Denis Cheryshev created relief.

13th place: Real Madrid 2019/20 – 411 million euros

Shopping spree at the royal: Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Éder Militão, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo … it got expensive. After all, a few names were given with Mateo Kovacic, Marcus Llorente or Theo Hernández.

12th place: Paris Saint-Germain 2019/20 – 414.4 million euros

Mauro Icardi, Pablo Sarabia, Abdou Diallo, Idrissa Gueye, Ander Herrera – PSG shopped hard that season to make this list for the first time. The departures of Giovani Lo Celso and Adrien Rabiot provided relief, but of course that’s not enough to be in the black.

11th place: Manchester City 2021/22 – 417.6 million euros

Ferran Torres has been sacked but the English champions have saddled up in salary terms with the addition of Jack Grealish and Julián Álvarez.

10th place: Real Madrid 2017/18 – 430.8 million euros

With Morata, Danilo and James (on loan to Bayern) Real made room in the team, the newcomers (Theo Hernández and Dani Ceballos) were comparatively cheap. Nevertheless, the last year of CR7 with the royals was really expensive again.

9th place: Manchester United 2021/22 – 453.4 million euros

Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Varane and, at the last second, Cristiano Ronaldo sent the Red Devils’ salary bills skyrocketing. Daniel James and several players were loaned out – it’s quite possible that some of them were also paid for by United…

8th place: FC Barcelona 2021/22 – 457.2 million euros

No more Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann also went back to Atlético. However, it was far from cheap for the Blaugrana – newcomers like Ferran Torres, Memphis Depay or Adama Traoré also wanted to be paid.

7th place: FC Barcelona 2019/20 – 487.1 million euros

Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong, among others, were added, while Malcom, Jesper Cillessen and Philippe Coutinho went on loan to Bayern. After all, savings have been made compared to the previous year…

6th place: FC Barcelona 2020/21 – 489.6 million euros

The last year with Lionel Messi – the Luis Suárez transfer to Atlético didn’t bring much relief. After all, the books were pimped up a bit with the exchange of Arthur Melo (for 76 million to Juve) and Miralem Pjanic (for 60 million from Juve).

5th place: Paris Saint-Germain 2020/21 – 503.2 million euros

Mauro Icardi’s commitment cost 50 million euros. A few legacy issues such as Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier were shed. Neymar’s contract extension must have been really expensive – but the big end followed a year later…

4th place: Real Madrid 2021/22 – 519 million euros

David Alaba and Eduardo Camavinga paid a lot for their move to Madrid, and Karim Benzema signed a contract extension. Raphaël Varane and Martin Odegaard disappeared from the balance books.

3rd place: FC Barcelona 2017/18 – 529.1 million euros

Neymar had been sold, so spectacular – and high-priced – transfers were needed: Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Countinho, Paulinho and Nélson Semedo were the expression of a transfer policy that was about to ruin the club by a hair’s breadth…

2nd place: FC Barcelona 2018/19 – 541.9 million euros

With Malcom, Clément Lenglet, Arturo Vidal and Arthur Melo, Barça was topped up again before the bubble finally burst. After all, the departures of Paulinho, Yerri Mina and Lucas Digne have saved a bit.

1st place: Paris Saint-Germain 2021/22 – 728 million euros

Lionel Messi. Achraf Hakimi. Gianluigi Donnarumma. Sergei Ramos. Georginio Wijnaldum. In addition, the already existing stars like Neymar, Kylian Mbappé … PSG increased their salary costs by more than 220 million euros in the season before the World Cup in Qatar and in doing so came out into unknown spheres. And don’t forget: This does not even include Mbappé’s crazy contract extension in summer 2022…

According to Football Benchmark PSG’s salary costs were greater than the club’s turnover (ratio of 109:100). It is therefore not surprising that the club has accumulated over 300 million euros in debt in the said period.


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