This week we look at which Premier League teams are getting the best and worst value for money from the transfer fees and wage bills they pay out.
According to the most recent Sporting Intelligence report, in terms of average player salaries the Premier League is the highest-paid soccer league in the world, followed by La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and the Chinese Super League. Only the NBA, MLB and cricket’s Indian Premier League pay higher average wages.
The individual soccer clubs with the largest average player salaries are to be found outside England, however: Barcelona (£10.5 million), Real Madrid (£8.1 million) and Juventus (£6.7 million). Lionel Messi’s gross salary alone is reportedly more than £50 million.
Manchester United have the highest average annual wages in the Premier League at £6.53 million, while Cardiff are lowest with £0.96 million.
United also have the largest total wage bill (£148.98 million), and Cardiff again have the smallest (£26.17 million).
If we look at how much Premier League clubs are spending per point earned after 29 games, we can see which of them are getting good value for money in terms of their wage bills.
So although they’re near-certainties to be relegated, Cardiff are nonetheless getting what they paid for. They just haven’t paid very much at all. The same cannot be said, however, of Fulham (£2.49 million in wages per point) and Huddersfield (£2.32 million per point).
Wolves are the only Premier League side to have spent less than a million pounds (£0.91 million) on wages per point gained.
Meanwhile, Southampton are receiving the worst value for money in wage terms in the league, paying a remarkable £2.60 million per point thus far. And despite their Ole Gunnar Solskjaer-led resurgence, Manchester United are still reaping very poor dividends from their enormous wage bill, with the Premier League’s second-worst return at £2.57 million per point.
Some other teams certainly aren’t getting great value for money as well. Arsenal, for example, are paying the third-highest total wages to defenders (£37.54 million) and the second-biggest sum to goalkeepers (£11.96 million) in the league, but only 10 teams have conceded more goals this season.
Meanwhile, Everton are spending the fourth-highest amount on forwards’ wages (£18.10 million) in return for only the eighth-highest number of goals. Those 39 Everton goals are below the league average of 40.7.
The other obvious gauge of value for money is of course transfer fees.
As might be expected, there’s a very strong correlation between total wages and total transfer fees spent on a squad. The only significant difference can be seen in Wolves, who have the fourth-lowest wage bill (£39.23 million) but the ninth-lowest transfer-fee outlay (£148.78 million). The top nine and bottom 11 are the same in both charts.
Next we’ll look at how much Premier League teams are paying per point earned this season in terms of the total transfer fees involved in assembling their squads.
Again, while Cardiff’s play might be as dour as it is ineffective, at least the club haven’t overpaid for that mediocrity. In stark contrast to the Welsh side, Fulham have spent £80 million more to be almost as bad. This helps to explain why Cardiff have persevered with manager Neil Warnock, while Fulham are already onto their third head coach of the season.
These figures aren’t any kinder to Manchester United, either. The fact that their big city rivals are spending ever so slightly more per point gained will be of little comfort, given that City look set to be the first side to retain the Premier League title this decade, while United are still battling merely to qualify for next season’s Champions League.