Ranking the PL big six by their profits on player sales since 2017

Quick Reads
Philippe Coutinho celebrates with Liverpool team-mate Alberto Moreno. King Power Stadium, September 2017.

While the ‘Big Six’ have more money than any of the other Premier League clubs, some are more sensible with it than others.

After Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang recently left Arsenal, football finance expert Swiss Ramble published a superb thread on Twitter detailing the players that have left the ‘Big Six’ sides in recent years.

We’ve compiled a list of how much profit each of the ‘Big Six’ have made from players sales since the summer of 2017. Note: transfer figures have been sourced from transfermarkt.

6. Manchester United

While United have been criticised for their poor recruitment in recent years, they haven’t exactly been flawless when it comes to selling players either.

The likes of Marouane Fellaini, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Matteo Darmian, Guillermo Varela, Daley Blind and Romelu Lukaku were all sold at a loss.

Alexis Sanchez was valued at around £30.8million when he joined United in January 2018 but was allowed to join allowed Inter Milan on a free transfer 18 months later. 

Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney also left on free transfers but United definitely got their money’s worth with those four.

United did make profits on Chris Smalling and Daniel James, while academy products like Adnan Januzaj also helped generate some money.

But that wasn’t enough to give United an overall profit and they have lost £192million from player sales in the last five years.

That looks set to increase in the summer as Paul Pogba, who joined United in a record £89million deal, has just four months left on his current contract.

5. Arsenal

Alongside United, Arsenal are another team that have often struggled to recoup the money that they spent on players.

Big money signings like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sokratis all had their Arsenal contracts terminated by mutual consent.

Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey, David Luiz and Santi Cazorla also left Arsenal on free transfers when their contracts expired while Petr Cech and Per Mertesacker both retired.

Arsenal’s biggest profits came from two of their academy products as Alex Iwobi joined Everton and Joe Willock moved to Newcastle United.

They’ve also made over £30million in profits on goalkeepers, selling Wojciech Szczesny to Juventus and Emi Martinez to Aston Villa.

Those sales help put Arsenal above United on this list but they still made an overall loss of £162.8million.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with Mesut Ozil during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium. 02 September 2018.

READ: Eight Arsenal heroes that left for free in the last decade: Auba, Ozil…

4. Manchester City

While City have made some great signings to develop into one of the best teams in the world, they have not always got it right in the transfer market.

Eliaquim Mangala became the most expensive defender in the history of British football when he joined City for £40.5million but was later allowed to leave on a free transfer.

Several players were also sold at losses, including Nicolas Otamendi, Aleksander Kolarov, Wilfried Bony, Nolito, Fernando and Fabian Delph.

The only players that City have made a £10million+ profit on in the last five years are Kelechi Iheanacho and Ferran Torres, who joined Leicester City and Barcelona respectively.

Unlike other clubs, City probably aren’t too concerned about their finances but they still made an overall loss of £131.8million.

Admittedly, this figure doesn’t tell the full story as club legends like David Silva, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero all left for nothing when their contracts expired.

3. Tottenham

Tottenham owner Daniel Levy is renowned for being an astute businessman and tough negotiator but that hasn’t always been the case in recent years.

Moussa Sissoko is Tottenham’s fourth-most expensive signing of all time, but he was later sold to Watford for just £3.2million in 2021.

Serge Aurier, Erik Lamela, Fernando Llorente, Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose cost Tottenham over £110million and they all left on free transfers.

Tottenham’s biggest transfer profit came from Kyle Walker, who joined the club for £5.3million in 2009 and was sold for £50million eight years later.

They also made £10million+ profits on Christian Eriksen, Kyle Walker-Peters, Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier and Nabil Bentaleb.

But those deals still aren’t enough to give Tottenham an overall profit and they’ve lost £50.8million through player sales since 2017.

2. Liverpool

In recent years, Liverpool have become renowned for their ability to make great signings and also sell players for more than their value.

Philippe Coutinho joined the Reds for just £11.7million and was sold to Barcelona for more than 10 times that amount in January 2018.

Dominic Solanke, Danny Ings, Mamadou Sakho and Ki-Jana Hoever cost Liverpool less than £25million but those four players helped generate over £75million.

Academy products like Rhian Brewster, Harry Wilson, Ryan Kent and Rafael Camacho also helped bring money to the club.

The Reds weren’t always able to make money as Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne, Daniel Sturridge and Emre Can all left on free transfers.

But Liverpool are the first team on this list to record an overall profit, making £93million from player sales in the last five years.

1. Chelsea

There was only ever going to be one winner.

Chelsea’s Executive Director Marina Granovskaia has become something of a wheeler-dealer and her ability to negotiate a sale has been a key reason for their recent success.

Despite only having one year left on his Chelsea contract in 2019, Eden Hazard was remarkably sold to Real Madrid for over £100million.

They’ve also made £15million+ profits on Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma, Thibaut Courtois, David Luiz,  Marc Guehi, Nathan Ake, Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea’s biggest losses in recent years came from Willian, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Olivier Giroud but those four players repaid their transfer fees. Admittedly, they have still made some regrettable signings like Alvaro Morata, Loic Remy and Juan Cuadrado.

Overall, Chelsea have made a £198.6million profit from player sales and that’s more than double what Liverpool generated.


More from Planet Football

The Premier League ‘big six’ head-to-head table in 2021-22: Arsenal 6th

Can you name every player to score 10+ Premier League goals in 01-02?

Joe Sheerin: ‘I’m not proud of having the shortest Prem career ever’