Yeah, winning the Premier League is great and all that, but the hypothetical ‘Net Spend Trophy’ has taken on rather comical importance to football fans on social media.
Liverpool supporters were once mocked for their pride in the Reds’ recruitment model, while Manchester City have been transformed from big spenders to big sellers in recent transfer windows.
Meanwhile, Brighton continue to set the standard when it comes to returning profit, with the Seagulls currently the masters of unearthing gems from far-flung corners of the world before selling them on for gargantuan fees.
But who would be crowned champions were the Net Spend Trophy a real-life event? And which teams would top the table for profits made?
The Premier League five-year net spend table:
1. Brighton & Hove Albion: €92.26m
It will come as little surprise to discover that Brighton would be crowned champions, with the Seagulls remarkably the only Premier League team to have made a profit on transfers since the 2019/20 season.
Brighton have continually flogged their top talent while maintaining an upward trajectory, one which saw the club secure European qualification for the first time last season.
The Seagulls also now hold the record for the most expensive Premier League sale of all time, following Moises Caicedo’s departure for Chelsea in a deal which could reach £115m.
The midfielder had joined Brighton for a fee of just £4.5m in 2021.
Brighton’s squad that beat Man Utd 3-1 this weekend cost just £16.2m to assemble… 👏 pic.twitter.com/AFCaK33Xdf
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 18, 2023
2. Luton Town: €-14.18m
Luton rank second, though in large part due to the club’s time spent outside the top division.
In 2019/20, Luton had just been promoted from League One. The Hatters are now a top division team for the first time since 1992.
3. Everton: €-28.95m
Everton’s financial issues have restricted spending in recent transfer windows, with the Toffees’ rather questionable recruitment record – alongside the construction of a new stadium – having seen the purse strings tightened.
4. Brentford: €-85.55m
5. Burnley: €-91.99m
6. Crystal Palace: €-120.09m
7. Bournemouth: €-122.47m
8. Fulham: €-127.72m
9. Sheffield United: €-145.20m
10. Wolverhampton Wanderers: €-145.83m
11. Nottingham Forest: €-243.24m
Nottingham Forest made a splash on their return to the Premier League in 2022, embarking on one of the most remarkable recruitment drives the division has ever seen.
Greek owner Evangelos Marinakis backed the club to the tune of £173.5m in 2022/23 alone, an investment that saw a staggering 30 new players arrive through the door at the City Ground.
Nottingham Forest fans were in party mood away at Palace on Sunday as they avoided relegation for this season.
— Football Away Days (@AwayDays_) May 30, 2023
12. Liverpool: €-254.60m
Liverpool have been the lowest net spenders of the Premier League’s traditional ‘Big Six’, investing just over €250m in new talent.
However, it’s only enough for a 12th place finish in our table.
13. West Ham United: €-289.99m
14. Aston Villa: €-364.47m
15. Manchester City: €-372.75m
Manchester City have taken more than their fair share of criticism for spending across the past decade, but the Citizens are rather more shrewd when it comes to the modern market.
Five clubs have a higher net spend than the Premier League champions across the past five seasons, who have developed a healthy habit of selling on unwanted assets and academy products for large fees, including the £42.5m recouped for Cole Palmer last summer.
16. Newcastle United: €-486.38m
17. Tottenham Hotspur: €-510.03m
18. Arsenal FC: €-645.14m
Arsenal have backed Mikel Arteta in recent transfers windows with €645.14m net invested since 2019/20.
The investment is beginning to bear fruit after a return to the Champions League, while it will be hoped Arsenal can kick on another level after the club record arrival of Declan Rice during the summer.
19. Manchester United: €-701.81m
Underwhelming big-money arrivals and a struggle to sell players have proven to be problematic for Manchester United.
The Red Devils have sold just one player for a fee of more than £20m+ since 2019/20, the £73m departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.
20. Chelsea: €-785.64m
Chelsea are bottom of the Premier League’s Net Spend Table, having splashed out €785.64m more than they have brought back in across the last two seasons.
The vast majority of that investment has come since Todd Boehly’s takeover of the Blues in 2022, with the American having embarked on a record-breaking spend.
Boehly has spent more than €1 billion across the three transfer windows he has been in charge for, but has seen precious little return on that investment to date. Chelsea finished 12th in the Premier League in 2022/23, their lowest league finish since 1994.
Chelsea have picked up just one win under Mauricio Pochettino.
They sit 14th in the Premier League after five games.
They’ve spent over 1 billion dollars in just three transfer windows under Todd Boehly’s ownership.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) September 25, 2023