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Manchester’s Most Expensive XI Footballers

David Blake merges together a MCR team worth over £300m (that's 1000 weeks graft for Wazza)

Written by . Published on March 17th 2014.

Manchester’s Most Expensive XI Footballers

MANCHESTER’s two premier football clubs generated approximately £610 million of revenue over the course of the 2012-13 season.

There are whole nations with a lower GDP than that.

City owner Sheikh Mansour has enough money to give every person in the world around £2.70. No really.

“Doesn’t seem like that much,” said an accountant friend of mine. “That’s more than the entire GDP of Gambia,” I said. “Eh, where's Gambia?" said the accountant with lots of qualifications and certificates but none in geography or socio-economics.

Sheikh itSheikh it

According to Deloitte’s football rich list, Manchester United generated around £350m of revenue last season, City £250m (interestingly the world’s richest clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, belong to the fans).

Of course this doesn’t take into account the buying power of individual owners, City owner Sheikh Mansour has enough money to give every person in the world around £2.70. No really.

Needless to say, there’s a fair amount of money thrown around in football. Most of it on talent acquisition. In the last five years Manc City alone have spent around £640m buying players, United £270m.

Which got us thinking. What is Manchester’s most expensive starting line-up? What’s their combined cost? And what would past transfer fees be worth in 'today's money'? So we stopped doing real work for a few hours to put this together…

Most Expensive XIMost Expensive XI

(We’ve gone for a 4-3-3 formation, because forwards cost more and because we can)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea (£18m), Atletico Madrid to Man Utd in 2011

The young Spaniard, now 23, had a shaky start to life at Old Trafford. With questions raised over his physicality, De Gea found himself on rotation at United with the Danish keeper Anders Lindegaard. But following a number of star turns and a place in the Premier League winning team of the year 2012/13, De Gea has found himself firmly back in no.1. With rumours suggesting Barcelona were sniffing around, United have recently tied De Gea down until 2018 with a £90,000 a week contract.

David De GeaDavid De Gea

Defence – Phil Jones (£16m), Blackburn to Man Utd in 2011

A hefty fee for a teenager, but Jones, now 22, has been impressive at right back, central defence and in the holding role for both club and country so far in his career. Jones has become as renowned for his range of famous ‘game-faces’ (like a Balrog with a dicky belly) as for his consistency. With Ferdinand, 35, and Vidic, 32, nearing the end of their United careers, everyone is looking to Jones to step up to the plate and set down his marker as a long-term captain.

Phil JonesPhil Jones

Defence – Joleon Lescott (£22m), Everton to Man City in 2009

Although Lescott’s five year City career will come to a close at the end of this season, with West Ham, Newcastle, Spurs, Fulham and Turkish club Besiktas keen, Joleon played a pivotal role in the club’s title winning season of 2011/12 with 33 Premier League appearances, forming a formidable partnership with City’s Belgian talisman Vincent Kompany. In total Lescott has made 144 appearances for City, winning three major honours in the process.

Joleon LescottJoleon Lescott 

Defence – Rio Ferdinand (£30m), Leeds to Man Utd in 2002

Ferdinand has the unusual honour of having been the world’s most expensive defender… twice. In 2000 the defender transferred to Leeds from West Ham for £18m, two years later Alex Ferguson signed the 23-year-old for £30 million. Widely regarded as the best and most consistent central defender to have ever played in the Premier League, the 35-year-old is seeing out the back end of his career following twelve years and nearly 450 appearances for the club. Rumours suggest a move to the MLS is likely. Still, at £2.5m a year, United have squeezed great value out of Rio.

Rio FerdinandRio Ferdinand

Defence – Aleksander Kolarov (£19m), Lazio to Man City in 2010

The Serbian became frustrated under former manager Roberto Mancini, never able to gain a long run in the side or establish consistent form. Rumours of a big-money move to Russia followed. But under City coach Manuel Pellegrini, Kolarov benefitted from a new lease of life and has managed to usurp Gael Clichy to become the first choice left-back... just. There’s no doubting Kolarov’s pace and attack-mindedness, but questions still hang over the Serbs defensive inadequacies, often getting caught out at the back.

Aleksander KolarovAleksander Kolarov

Midfield – Juan Mata (£37m), Chelsea to Man Utd in 2014

Mata became Man Utd’s biggest signing this January after falling out of favour at Chelsea, eclipsing their previous record signing - Dimitar Berbatov from Spurs in 2008 – by over £6m. Mata joined Chelsea from Valenicia in 2011 for £23.5 and made over 130 appearances for the club, scoring 32 goals and picking up Chelsea’s player of the year in both the 2011/12 and 2012/13 season. There is only City’s David Silva (signed for £25m) that has created most chances than Mata over the past three seasons in the Premier League. So far Mata has had a steady, but not spectacular start to life at the Theatre of Dreams.

David Moyes and Juan MataDavid Moyes and Juan Mata

Midfield – Fernandinho (£30m), Shakhtar Donetsk to Man City in 2013

The 28-year-old Brazilian central-midfielder signalled his full arrival at City when he led the rout with a two-goal match-winning display over Arsenal in December 2013. Initially, there was concern from many fans about signing a player, nearly 30, who had only proved himself in a Ukranian league at a level sub-standard to that of the Premiership. They needn’t have worried. Fernandinho has established himself as a force in midfield, forming a formidable partnership with City’s top dog Yaya Toure (signed from Barcelona for £24m) this season with 33 appearances whilst carving out a first-team place for himself in Brazil’s recent clash with South Africa. Scored a screamer too.


Midfield – Juan Sebastian Veron (£28m), Lazio to Man Utd in 2001

Veron, the most sought-after midfielder in the game, became the most expensive player in British history when Alex Ferguson signed him from Sven Goran Eriksson’s Lazio following a passport dispute. Fergie said: “My experience of this team is that when we have signed a player of this calibre, he has done wonders for us.” Well, this was one of very few times Ferguson ballsed up. Scholes was beginning to blossom beside the ferocious Roy Keane and really, Fergie didn’t need Veron, but he wanted him. Veron was a great player, but he was a victim of bad-timing at United and was carted off to Chelsea in 2003 for half the price.

Juan Sebastian VeronJuan Sebastian Veron

Striker – Sergio Aguero (£38m), Atletico Madrid to Man City 2011

It’s difficult to justify that any one player is worth a near-£40m price-tag, of course the figures are ludicrous, but for Aguero, arguably the best striker in the Premiership (ok Suarez too, but he’s a git) you may make an exception – especially if you look below. To say Aguero has been instrumental in City’s recent success on the pitch doesn’t do him justice. He's notched 73 goals in 113 appearances, 26 in 25 this season alone and has scored probably the most iconic Premier League goal in history with his 2011/12 last minute title winner. And he’s only 25-years-old. There are faint rumours in (not entirely respected) elements of the Spanish press that Aguero and Messi be involved in a City Barca swap. It’s testament to Aguero that not everyone would like to see this happen.

Sergio AgueroSergio Aguero after that goal

Striker – Dimitar Berbatov (£31m), Tottenham to Man Utd in 2008

Opinions are divided at Old Trafford over the Bulgarian Berba. On the one hand, he scored 57 goals in 149 appearances, sharing the same goals-to-game ratio (0.38) as George Best. Granted, many would argue that most of his goals came against weaker opponents, but no game in the top-tier is easy, unless it’s against Fulham this season (a club at which Berbatov was branded ‘the laziest man in football’ before being carted off to Monaco on loan this January). Others would point to a lacklustre and reticent player, a player that scored five goals in 26 appearances in the Champions League and an outsider who would often set himself aside from the rest of the team.

Still, is a hat-trick against Liverpool in a thrilling 3-2 win in September 2010 worth the price tag? Probably.

Dimitar BarbatovDimitar Barbatov

Striker – Robinho (£32.5m), Real Madrid to Man City in 2008

In September 2008 Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan bought out Man City, bringing with him more money than if Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Carlos Slim took a fancy to each other and formed a ménage a trois. The new owners wanted to make a statement, and what better way than to out-spend Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and steal Brazilian superstar Robinho right from under their nose with a British record transfer fee of £32.5m. He flopped as soon as he stepped off the plane, remarking in his first press conference that, 'Chelsea made a great proposal and I accepted'. Woops. In fairness, he had a reasonable first season, netting 14 goals for City. The second season, however, was a disaster. Struggling with injury he featured only twelve times in 2009/10, scoring one measly goal… against Scunthorpe. He was packed off to Milan in 2010 for 15m, a cool £17.5m loss.


So there you have it, a grand total of just over £300m spent on men’s hairy legs. That’s nearly £14m per leg. Then again, Jennifer Lopez is rumoured to have insured her arse for $300m, and that's just an arse. 

Interestingly, the same Gambia-blind Accountant chum from the top of this story provided this link to a pair of financiers/statisticians who are unquestionably good with numbers, but probably less so with girls.

Still, this table, or the ‘Transfer Price Index’, taking into account inflation and other factors most of us can’t (be bothered to) fathom, gives us an intriguing look at past Premiership transfer fees estimated in ‘2013/14 money’:

Past transfers fees estimated in 2013/14 money:

Wayne Rooney - Everton to Man Utd in 2004 for £27m – Today’s estimate £71m

Rio Ferdinand – Leeds to Man Utd in 2002 for £30m – Today’s estimate £70m

Juan Veron – Lazio to Man Utd in 2001 for £28m – Today’s estimate £53m

Sergio Aguero – Atletico Madrid to Man City in 2011 for £38m – Today’s estimate £50.5m

Michael Carrick – Spurs to Man Utd in 2006 for £18.6m – Today’s estimate £46.3m

Dwight Yorke – Aston Villa to Man Utd in 1998 for £17m – Today’s estimate £44.5m

Andy Cole – Newcastle to Man  Utd in 1995 for £8.5m – Today’s estimate £38.2m

Louis Saha – Fulham to Man Utd in 2004 for £12.9m – Today’s estimate £37.2m

Robinho – Real Madrid to Man City in 2008 for £32.5m – Today’s estimate £37m

'Worth twice as much as me are ya?''Worth twice as much as me are ya?'

Carlos Tevez – His ‘advisors’ to Man City in 2009 for £25.5m – Today’s estimate £37m

Jaap Stam – PSV Eindhoven to Man Utd in 1998 for £10.5m – Today’s estimate £37m

Emmanuel Adebayor – Arsenal to Man City in 2009 for £25.5m – Today’s estimate £36.4m

Ruud van Nistlerooy – PSV Eindhoven to Man Utd in 2001 for £19m – Today’s estimate £36m

Cristiano Ronaldo – Sporting Lisbon to Man Utd in 2003 for £12.2m – Today’s estimate £35.4m

'They're paying me how much?''They're paying me how much?'

And it's not just the players involved in huge money moves, here's another list (we promise this is the last one) of the highest paid football managers in the world per year (surprisingly, Moyes earns £1.4m more than Pellegrini... good value for money then):

Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich, Germany, £14.8m

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea, England, £8.4m

Marcelo Lippi, Guangzhou, China, £8.3m

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, England, £6.9m

Fabio Capello, Russia National Team, £6.5m

Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid, Spain, £6.3m

David Moyes, Man Utd, England, £4.9m

Tata Martino, Barcelona, Spain, £4.5m

Jurgen Klopp, Borussia Dortmund, £3.6m

Manuel Pellegrini, Man City, England, £3.5m


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