Chelsea's wage bill has risen to £190.5m a year but the Premier League leaders still lag behind both Manchester clubs, according to the latest figures.
Chelsea's annual accounts, which have been lodged at Companies House, reveal salaries for the 2013-14 season were up eight per cent from £176m last year.
Manchester United are the highest payers in English football, spending £214.8m while City's wage bill dropped last season to £205m.
Arsenal are fourth in the pay league with a bill of £166.4m, while the Southampton's wage bill is a fraction of their rivals – the latest figures available, for 2012-13, show the Saints, currently third in the Premier League, paid out £47.1m in salaries.
Chelsea's accounts confirm the club's announcement in November that they made a £18.4m profit last season, helped by a £65m profit due to the sales of Juan Mata to Manchester United, David Luiz to Paris St Germain and Kevin de Bruyne to Wolfsburg.
It allowed the club to overturn a £49.4m loss on the previous season and puts them in line to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules.
Chelsea's accounts show broadcasting income increased by £34m to £139m, due to the new Premier League television deal plus the benefits of being Champions League semi-finalists, while commercial income also showed a big rise, up £29m to £108m. Turnover overall was up £64m to £319.8m.
The accounts show five new players brought in by Jose Mourinho since June 30, 2014 - including Diego Costa and Filipe Luis – cost £62m with £19.6m coming in for players who were sold.