Ranking every Premier League club by their annual wage bill

Premier League football clubs boast riches incomparable to rival divisions, with England’s top teams splashing staggering sums on transfer fees and player wages.

Figures have been released for the 2021/22 season revealing the amounts clubs spent on their annual wage bill, which drastically differ between teams at opposite ends of the division.

We’ve ranked each team in the Premier League in terms of annual wage bill.

20. Nottingham Forest – £51m

Nottingham Forest posted the lowest wage bill of current Premier League club, perhaps unsurprising after an unexpected return to the top flight under Steve Cooper.

Forest had been bottom of the Championship at the time of Cooper’s arrival, but a stunning upturn in results led to promotion via the play-offs and a return to the Premier League for the first time since 1999.

Incredibly, Forest then made a British record 21 signings during last summer’s window, before adding another seven recruits in January. It will be fascinating to see where Forest rank in the 2022/23 accounts, following the club’s remarkable spending spree.

19. Bournemouth – £54m

Bournemouth are just above Forest in terms of wage bill, after joining the East Midlanders in the Premier League this season. The Cherries were promoted automatically from the Championship last season and are battling to beat the drop under Gary O’Neill.

After a modest spend in the summer, Bournemouth brought in names such as Ilya Zabarnyi, Dango Ouattara and Antoine Semenyo in January to boost their survival push. Their annual wage bill is one of just four recorded at under £100m.

18. Brentford – £60m

Brentford’s wage bill of £60m emphasises the incredible work Thomas Frank has done with the Bees, who continue to punch above their weight in the Premier League.

Smart recruitment, unity and a manager who knows how to maximise his team’s strengths have seen Brentford compete for a place in Europe this season, despite possessing the third lowest wage bill in the division.

The Bees – who have taken the scalps of Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool this season – are just four points outside the top six.

17. Fulham – £90m

Fulham’s bid to end the club’s recent yo-yo existence has been encouraging so far, with the Cottagers languishing in the relative security of mid-table.

Marco Silva’s side are tenth in the table, a fine achievement given their comparatively modest annual wage bill. Fulham spent £90m on wages during the 2021/22 season, a significant sum during their Championship winning season but one that paid off with promotion back into the top tier.

16. Leeds – £108m

Leeds were one of two clubs – alongside Southampton – whose figures for the 2021/22 season were not revealed. The club’s 2020/21 accounts were instead used and came in at £108m.

15. Southampton – £114m

Like Leeds, Southampton’s numbers are from the 2020/21 campaign. Their £114m wage bill ranks the Saints 15th in the Premier League among the latest recorded figures.

14. Brighton – £115m

Brighton are another team exceeding all expectations this season, with Roberto De Zerbi having continued the fine work of Graham Potter in building one of the Premier League’s most watchable sides.

The Seagulls have been among the savviest shoppers in the top-flight in recent windows, unearthing gems for a fraction of the fees spent elsewhere. Low-cost, low-risk signings with huge upside have propelled Brighton towards European football for the first time, with the club’s recruitment team having rarely faulted of late.

13. Wolves – £121m

Wolves’ £121m wage bill ranks them 13th in the division.

It will be interesting to see how the club’s 2022/23 accounts stack up however, after Wolves were one of several clubs to invest more than £100m on new players last summer. Matheus Nunes was the costliest addition, arriving for a club-record £38m from Sporting Lisbon.

12. Crystal Palace – £133m

Crystal Palace had the 12th largest wage bill in the Premier League and currently find themselves… 12th in the Premier League. Sometimes just really do get what you pay for.

11. West Ham – £136m

West Ham are 11th, though the Hammers figures are expected to rise after the marquee additions of Lucas Paqueta and Gianluca Scamacca (their success so far up for contention) as part of a big spend in excess of £150m.

David Moyes’ side have, however, failed to persuade Declan Rice to pen a new deal, despite a club-record offer to the England midfielder.

10. Aston Villa – £137m

Aston Villa are a fraction higher than West Ham with an annual wage bill of £137m last season.

It’s been all change of late at Villa Park however, with Unai Emery replacing Steven Gerrard to great success. The Spaniard has led Villa up the table and into sixth, as the club chase a return to Europe for the first time in over a decade.

9. Newcastle – £149m

Newcastle are ninth in the Premier League’s ‘wage bill table’ after the release of last season’s accounts, but the Magpies have since continued to invest heavily with the arrivals of Nick Pope, Alexander Isak, Sven Botman and Anthony Gordon for a combined sum of around £170m.

It’s been money well spent for Eddie Howe so far however, with Newcastle pushing for a top four finish and Champions League qualification. A return to Europe’s elite for the first time in more than two decades could see the club’s Saudi-funded project accelerate.

8. Everton – £162m

Everton are a side who have overspent and underperformed for several seasons, with the club’s reckless recruitment having led to a slide down the table. Europa League entrants as recently as 2017/18, the Toffees have spent the past two campaigns desperately clinging on to their top-flight status.

Everton had the eighth highest wage bill in the Premier League in 2021/22, but ended the campaign 16th. Sean Dyche’s side are currently 17th and again face a fight to survive.

7. Leicester – £182m

Leicester’s disastrous season ranks as arguably the biggest underperformance of the campaign, with the Foxes mired in the relegation places despite possessing the Premier League’s seventh-highest wage bill last season.

Leicester made the decision to sack Brendan Rodgers after dropping into the bottom three and have since appointed Dean Smith as manager until the end of the season. Smith’s task will be to salvage the club’s season. An ignominious drop into the Championship will see their wage bill slashed and an exodus of players.

6. Tottenham – £209m

Spurs wage bill is the lowest of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ clubs, at £209m per year.

The north Londoners agreed a new contract with Son Heung-min ahead of last season and are currently working on a new contract for Harry Kane, whose current deal will have just 12 months to run this summer.

5. Arsenal – £212m

Arsenal are fractionally ahead of their north London rivals with an annual wage bill of 2021/22.

The Gunners have been without Champions League football since the 2016/17 season, but are closing in on a return to Europe’s elite and chasing a first Premier League crown in 19 years. Mikel Arteta’s inexperienced side have emerged as one of the most impressive outfits in Europe this season and are six points clear at the top of the table.

4. Chelsea – £333m

Chelsea’s accounts for the 2022/23 season might just look mightily different to the £333m wage bill recorded last season.

Since then the west Londoners have embarked on a wild spending spree, shattering records for money spent in a season and sanctioning a £106m deal to make Enzo Fernandez the most expensive player in Premier League history.

Todd Boehly has spent around £600m on new players since taking ownership at Stamford Bridge. Expect the west Londoners to rise up these rankings when next season’s figures are accounted for.

3. Manchester City – £354m

Manchester City’s wage bill of £354m ranks the Premier League champions third in the division, though that figure could be significantly swelled following the arrival of Erling Haaland last summer.

Reports have suggested that Haaland’s basic wage is comparative to Manchester City’s top earners, which include the Premier League’s best-paid player in Kevin De Bruyne. However, Haaland’s list of achievable incentives could reportedly take his weekly earnings to a staggering £865,000-a-week.

A record-breaking season that has seen Haaland hit 45 goals in all competitions is clear evidence as to why City are prepared to pay such a package.

2. Liverpool – £366m

Liverpool ranked second for wages last season, with their wage bill totalling £366m.

The Reds have tied several names down to new contracts across the past 18 months, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk among those to have signed new deals since the start of last season. Mohamed Salah’s renewal was the costliest of those contracts, with the Egyptian’s extension placing him among the Premier League’s top earners.

1. Manchester United – £384m

Manchester United topped the Premier League’s wage bill list for 2021/22, a figure in part contributed to by the re-signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus.

Ronaldo’s return came amid much fanfare and a lucrative contract, though his second spell soon soured and he departed for the Middle East after that controversial interview.

Ronaldo’s exit might have removed a sizeable chunk of salary from the Red Devils’ wage bill, but a summer recruitment drive that saw Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia and Anthony arrive means the club are expected to remain high on this list in 2022/23.

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