In the numbers: How have top Premier League teams’ transfer market habits changed?

On November 30, I wrote a piece discussing how if Unai Emery’s Arsenal are ever to get back to the top, Emery must learn from his predecessor’s mistakes in the transfer market. In his finals years as manager, one of Arsene Wenger’s chief crimes was failing to develop players to a point where Arsenal could make a significant profit off them. Furthermore, players that did improve under Wenger were often allowed to run into the final year of their contract before leaving for less than their market worth.

Some of the numbers I encountered when researching the article were surprising. Arsenal, for instance, have only sold two players, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, for more than £30 million. Each of the big clubs’ player sales dwarfs Arsenal’s, with the exception of Manchester City, who have never sold a player for more than £26 million.

To make some sense out of the top teams’ transfer trends, I decided to make a series of graphs depicting each of top six teams’ total spend and sales over the last five seasons (including the current season) and recording their highest transfer fee paid and received over each of these years. The final graph records how their net spend has changed in this period.

One obvious limitation to this study is that transfer fees are often undisclosed, causing different media outlets often report varying fees for players. For the sake of consistency, I all figures are taken from  All figures are listed in £ million.

*This is part one of a series on big Premier League clubs’ spending and selling habits. Keep a close eye on “The Centre Circle” for a closer analysis of the data produced for this article.

premier-league-big-club-transfer-history.jpg - Crop

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