While the ‘Big Six’ have more money than the rest of the Premier League, some of them are more frugal than others. Following the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Arsenal, football financial specialist Swiss Ramble created a fantastic thread on Twitter documenting the players who have lately departed the ‘Big Six’ clubs.
Since the summer of 2017, we’ve developed a list ranking from the lowest to highest of how much profit each of the ‘Big Six’ has made from player sales. Transfer figures were obtained from transfermarkt.
While United has been chastised in recent years for their poor recruitment, they haven’t always been immaculate when it comes to selling players.
Marouane Fellaini, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Matteo Darmian, Guillermo Varela, Daley Blind, and Romelu Lukaku are just a few of the players who have been sold at a loss. When Alexis Sanchez joined United in January 2018, he was valued at roughly £30.8 million, yet he was permitted to join Inter Milan on a free transfer 18 months later.
United earned their money’s worth with Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, and Wayne Rooney, who all went on free transfers. United made money on Chris Smalling and Daniel James, and academy products such as Adnan Januzaj also contributed.
But it wasn’t enough to turn a profit for United, which has lost £192 million in player sales over the last five years. Paul Pogba, who joined United in a record £89 million transfer, has just four months left on his current contract, which appears sure to increase in the summer.
Arsenal, like United, has frequently failed to recoup the money spent on players. By mutual arrangement, Arsenal cancelled the contracts of big-money recruits such Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Sokratis.
When their contracts expired, Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey, David Luiz, and Santi Cazorla all left Arsenal on free transfers, while Petr Cech and Per Mertesacker also retired. Arsenal’s largest gains came from two of its academy products, Alex Iwobi and Joe Willock, who both joined Everton and Newcastle United, respectively.
With the sales of Wojciech Szczesny to Juventus and Emi Martinez to Aston Villa, they’ve made almost £30 million in goalkeeper earnings. Those transactions helped Arsenal rise above United on this ranking, although they still lost £162.8 million overall.
While City has made some excellent acquisitions in their quest to become one of the finest clubs in the world, they have not always been successful in the transfer market. When City paid £40.5 million for Eliaquim Mangala, he became the most expensive defender in British football history, although he was later allowed to go on a free transfer.
Nicolas Otamendi, Aleksander Kolarov, Wilfried Bony, Nolito, Fernando, and Fabian Delph were among the players who were sold at a loss. Kelechi Iheanacho and Ferran Torres, who joined Leicester City and Barcelona, respectively, are the only players on whom City has generated a £10 million profit in the last five years.
City, unlike other clubs, are undoubtedly unconcerned about their finances, but they still lost £131.8 million altogether. This statistic, though, does not tell the whole tale, as club luminaries such as David Silva, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, and Sergio Aguero all left for free when their contracts expired.
Daniel Levy, the owner of Tottenham Hotspur, is known for being a savvy businessman and a strong negotiator, but this hasn’t always been the case in recent years. Moussa Sissoko was Tottenham’s fourth most expensive purchase of all time, although he was sold to Watford in 2021 for just £3.2 million.
Tottenham spent almost £110 million on Serge Aurier, Erik Lamela, Fernando Llorente, Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen, and Danny Rose, all of whom left on free transfers. Kyle Walker, who joined Tottenham for £5.3 million in 2009 and was sold for £50 million eight years later, was the club’s greatest transfer profit.
Christian Eriksen, Kyle Walker-Peters, Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier, and Nabil Bentaleb all made £10 million or more. However, such trades aren’t enough to turn a profit for Tottenham, which has lost £50.8 million in player sales since 2017.
Liverpool has gained a reputation in recent years for being able to make excellent signings and sell players for more than their worth. Philippe Coutinho joined Liverpool for £11.7 million and was sold to Barcelona in January 2018 for more than ten times that amount.
Liverpool paid less than £25 million for Dominic Solanke, Danny Ings, Mamadou Sakho, and Ki-Jana However, they helped produce more than £75 million. Rhian Brewster, Harry Wilson, Ryan Kent, and Rafael Camacho, all academy graduates, also contributed to the club’s financial success.
Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne, Daniel Sturridge, and Emre Can all went on free transfers, indicating that the Reds were not always able to make money. Liverpool, on the other hand, is the first side on this list to make a profit, having made £93 million from player sales in the last five years.
There could never be more than one winner. Marina Granovskaia, Chelsea’s Executive Director, has developed a reputation as a wheeler-dealer, and her ability to close a deal has been a crucial factor in the company’s recent success.
Eden Hazard was transferred to Real Madrid for nearly £100 million despite having only one year left on his Chelsea contract in 2019. Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma, Thibaut Courtois, David Luiz, Marc Guehi, Nathan Ake, Diego Costa, and Nemanja Matic have all made £15 million or more.
Willian, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, and Olivier Giroud were Chelsea’s biggest losses in recent years, but all four players returned their transfer prices. They have made some questionable signings, such as Alvaro Morata, Loic Remy, and Juan Cuadrado.