Does Spending Money Win Champions League? Real Madrid Show Yes And No
So can you buy Champions League glory or is the world’s premier club competition still the one that requires more than money to win it?
A quick glance at the tables in Europe’s big five domestic leagues suggests that the clubs with the biggest transfer budgets end up on top, with Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester City currently coasting to the title.
Napoli are bucking the trend in Italy, but they are only one point clear of Juventus at the top of Serie A and it would be a surprise if Maurizio Sarri’s team deny Juve a seventh successive Scudetto this season.
Predictability is becoming a theme in the domestic leagues, but the Champions League retains an air of competitive edge and uncertainty, even if the clubs in contention to win it all have huge wealth to rely upon.
Perhaps the accelerated growth of PSG and City, bankrolled by the royal families of Qatar and Abu Dhabi respectively, may see the Champions League become a plaything dominated by two rival Gulf states, but it has not happened yet and recent history suggests that money does not guarantee success when it comes to lifting the European Cup
Only once in the last 10 seasons have the biggest-spending club in Europe gone on to win the Champions League.
In 2013-14, Real Madrid’s £157.95 million spending spree, with Gareth Bale the centrepiece of their outlay, was rewarded with the Champions League triumph against neighbours Atletico Madrid in Lisbon.
But in the last three seasons, the world’s biggest spenders have been in Manchester — United in 2014-15 and City in 2015-16 and 2016-17 — but the European Cup has remained in Spain with Real (twice) and Barcelona.
Barca were the world’s second-biggest spenders in 2014-15 when they beat Juventus to win the competition in Berlin, but Real were the 16th biggest spenders when winning it the following year and then only the 58th biggest last season, when a summer outlay of just £27m was enough to see them become the first team to retain the title in the Champions League era.
PSG have twice been the world’s biggest spenders, but they have so far not even made it to the semifinals of the Champions League, despite the massive financial outlay at Parc des Princes.
But they are not the biggest spenders this year, and neither are City, with Barcelona’s £291.87m outlay putting them in top spot.
The spending has gone through the roof in the past year, however.
Real’s £157.95m spending in 2013-14 was the biggest ever one-year outlay by a club, but this year alone, Barca, City, PSG and Chelsea have all broken through the £200m barrier.
But Real, pursuing a third successive European Cup, have spent just £41.85m.
So money does not guarantee Champions League success, but as the millions stack up, only time will tell how long that remains the case.