Does spending a lot of money always get you better results in the Premier League?

Now that the financial results for Arsenal’s 2017/2018 season are out, let’s have a look at some statistics to see if spending money on buying new players actually brings better results. The year-end cash position for Arsenal was a staggering £231.3 million, based on the financial year that ended on May 31st 2018. So the question is, should Arsenal be investing as much of this as possible into purchasing new star players for the squad?

One of the often discussed topics of Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign at Arsenal was his lack of spending money on new players. The former Arsenal manager was well known for looking for bargains, following his belief that the club should live within its means and should never spend more than it makes. Looking at the numbers during Wenger’s period in London, it does show that the Frenchman was at times stingy, but was more open to spending more during the last years.

Hold this shirt up, mate.
“But I’m already wearing the same shirt.”
Just hold it anyway.
“But it’s just obscuring the shirt I’m alre-“
Always one, ain’t there?

Arsenal of course haven’t won the Premier League title since 2004, so is it a lack of spending that has prevented that being repeated, and reduced the ability to compete with Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United? Statistics show that spending more money is no guarantee of success. The amount a club spends does make a difference, but only when spending a lot.

The English Premier League remained Europe’s highest spending football league in the 2018 summer transfer window. La Liga and the the Serie A complete the top-3 spending leagues. Using the data from this season and the previous four seasons, this study analyses the amounts spent to determine how Premier League clubs have been performing on the pitch compared to the summer and January transfer windows.

Tottenham come out on top, with the club only spending £3.8million for every point achieved over the past four and a half seasons. Spurs may not still be in the running for the Premier League title, but where they have been enjoying success has been in getting the most bang for their buck in the transfer window. The statistics show how well Pochettino has done on that measure during his tenure. Last summer Tottenham didn’t buy any players, keeping the team from last season almost intact. This has obviously contributed in keeping the spending to points ratio low.

Manchester United, on the other hand, spent £11million in transfer fees per point achieved in the same period. The recent series of victories under Solskjær will probably have made these figures look somewhat better, though, as these numbers are not yet taken in account in the statistics. Perhaps surprisingly Arsenal are the third best performer, having spent £7million per point, despite some big spending in recent seasons: Aubameyang (£57.38m), Lacazette (£47.70m) and Xhaka (£40.50m) are the biggest since 2017.

Cash. Lovely.

Manchester City have been the biggest spender among all Premier League teams in the last three seasons. But, Pep Guardiola claims that the City’s success is not just down to spending money. Buying star players will certainly help you in achieving your goals, but this is certainly not the only factor.

The most important thing is to buy the right players for the right positions, which is where coaching plays a big part.

Liverpool are mounting a serious challenge this season, and could win their first title for 29 years. The big money purchases of Virgil Van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker seem to be the pieces of the jigsaw that have brought them to this level.

So it’s not a simple case of spending big and hoping for the best, there is a greater need to make decisions that are planned strategically to try and make sure the investments pay off.



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