Manchester United break record for most expensive squad

Paul Pogba in action at the KCOM Stadium

Sitting sixth in the Premier League after seven games, Manchester United may have yet to find their groove under Jose Mourinho, but a report by CIES Football Observatory has shown they are top of the table when it comes to money spent on transfers.

The Red Devils current squad was assembled for an eye-watering €718m - roughly £626m - making it the most expensive in history of Europe's top-5 leagues.

Despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining on a free, the high-profile arrivals of world-record signing Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly represent an extra £161m compared to last season, putting United well clear of second-placed Real Madrid, whose current squad cost £553m.

Transfer expenditure to assemble squad (million £)

1 Manchester United 626
2 Real Madrid 553
3 Manchester City 533
4 Barcelona 423
5 Chelsea 419
6 PSG 397
7 Juventus 345
8 Arsenal 332
9 Bayern Munich 312
10 Liverpool 310
12 Tottenham 239
14 Everton 185
19 West Ham 171
20 Southampton 159
23 Crystal Palace 132
26 Leicester City 114
47 Burnley 48

Cross city rivals Manchester City are third with £533m ahead of Barcelona in fourth (£423m) and Chelsea in fifth (£419m).  Arsenal and Liverpool also make up Europe's top 10 with the Gunners squad costing £332m and the Reds' roster amounting to £310m.

While there is generally a healthy correlation between cost of transfer fees and final league position, United have made a stuttering start to the season.

Three consecutive wins in the Premier League augured well for the start of the Mourinho era, but defeat in the Manchester derby was followed by losses to Feyenoord and Watford, puncturing the initial optimism around Old Trafford.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks on during the game at Old Trafford
Image: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in seven Premier League games since joining on a free

Unconvincing cup victories against Northampton and Zorya Luhansk did little to lighten the mood and this weekend's draw against Stoke has raised fresh questions about whether United are ready to challenge for the title this season, despite their expensive recruitment push over the summer. 

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Pogba has yet to justify his lofty price tag and Mkhitaryan has barely featured, with Bailly the only one of the big money additions to have impressed.  Instead it has been free-signing of Ibrahimovic and academy graduate Marcus Rashford who have made the most significant contributions.

John Stones in action for Manchester City against Sunderland
Image: Manchester City have the third-most expensive squad in Europe - including summer buy John Stones

It is worth noting that only once in the last eleven occasions that a club has broken the world transfer record have they gone on to win their domestic league, while Leicester City's title-winning achievements with the 17th costliest squad in the league last season show that money is not always a guarantee for success.

The findings of the new study by CIES Football Observatory also indicate the growing presence of Premier League clubs in the upper echelons of the transfer market with all 20 clubs featuring in the top 50.

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Tottenham place just outside the top 10 as their £239m spent makes them the 12th most expensively assembled squad in Europe, while Everton are 14th with £185m - more than the likes of Monaco, Roma and Atletico Madrid.

Despite currently sitting in the relegation zone, West Ham's squad is the 19th most expensive at £171m, while Southampton make up the top 20 with £159m.

The summer signings of Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend and James Tomkins has pushed Crystal Palace up to 23rd - just behind AC Milan - and reigning champions Leicester are 26th place. Meanwhile, Burnley are the Premier League club with the least expensively-assembled squad, coming in at 47th with £48m.

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