Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal posted highest losses over past decade, research shows
Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal lost the most money through player transfers in world football over the last decade, new research shows.
The CIES Football Observatory looked at non-academy players signed and sold from 2014 to 2023.
La Liga giants Barcelona generated the highest loss of 631m euros (£540m), while Ligue 1 side Lille made the most profit – 386m euros (£330m).
Six Premier League clubs feature in the top 10 for losses.
After Chelsea and Arsenal in second and third respectively, Manchester United are fifth, Aston Villa seventh, Everton eighth and Liverpool ninth.
The research lists the top 50 clubs for both losses and profit, with Brentford (26th) and Brighton (29th) the two Premier League sides in the top 50 for profit.
Despite Stoke City not having been in the Premier League for six years, they remain among those making the highest losses over the period of time looked at by the researchers, sitting in 16th.
The research shows significant losses are often a result of big signings leaving for much less than the club originally bought them for, while the report also cites players who contributed to these losses.
Clubs from the Chinese Super League feature prominently in the top 50 for losses, with Saudi Arabian teams Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal, Al-Ahli and Al-Ittihad also included after high spending last summer, when the likes of Brazil captain Neymar and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema joined the Saudi Pro League.
Barcelona spent over 1.2bn euros (£1bn) and received 613m euros (£524m), with the report citing the deal for Philippe Coutinho, who signed from Liverpool for £142m in 2018 before leaving for Aston Villa for £17m. He has since joined Al-Duhail on loan.
Barcelona also signed Ousmane Dembele for £135.5m before he was sold for £43.5m last summer to Paris St-Germain.
Chelsea lost 482m euros (£413m) after signing players like Christian Pulisic for £58m in 2019, before selling him to AC Milan for £20m last year. Jorginho signed for £50m in 2018 but was then sold for £12m to Arsenal.
They also spent about 1.2bn euros (£1bn), including signing both Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez for over £100m, and received 730m euros (£624m) in sales.
Arsenal lost 436m euros (£373m) after signing players such as Nicolas Pepe for £72m, before he left after four years on a free transfer to Trabzonspor.
Manchester City – losses of 59m euros (£51m) and Bayern Munich – losses of 61m euros (£52m) – “have the best balances among the most competitive teams” the report said.
Lille gained 386m euros (£330m) in profits following the sales of players such as striker Victor Osimhen, who they signed for £10m and then sold to Napoli for £82m.
Sven Botman joined Newcastle United for a fee of £32m from Lille, who signed him in 2020 for £7.2m.
Ajax were close behind Lille with player trades showing a positive balance of 317m euros (£271m). Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal posted highest losses over past decade, research shows