Comparing Madrid and Barcelona’s net spend since Guardiola left, 2012

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Luka Modric and Frenkie de Jong during the match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, corresponding to the week 10 of the Liga Santandere, played at the Camp Nou Stadium, on 24th October 2021

A lot has changed in Spanish football since Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in the summer of 2012 – not least Real Madrid ruling Europe once again. But how do the two eternal rivals compare for spending in that time?

Jose Mourinho’s Madrid pipped Barcelona to the league in Guardiola’s final season. But Barcelona had won three La Liga titles in a row prior to that, as well as two Champions Leagues in three years – and three since Los Blancos claimed their ninth European Cup back in 2002.

Under Guardiola’s former right-hand man Tito Vilanova, Barcelona emphatically returned to the summit of the Spanish top-flight in 2012-13 and later, with Luis Enrique at the helm, would claim a second treble in 2014-15.

In fact, over the past decade, Barcelona have continued to edge it when it comes to domestic matters. They’ve won five of the last 10 La Liga titles since Guardiola’s departure, to Real Madrid’s three and Atletico Madrid’s two. The Catalan club have also won five Copa del Rey since 2012, while over that period Madrid only have one.

But things have markedly shifted in recent years. Barcelona have failed to win any of the last three league titles – they’d not gone two years without winning it since 2008. Financial turmoil has resulted in the greatest player in their history, Lionel Messi, leaving the club.

The area that will really sting for Barcelona fans is Madrid’s reemergence as European football’s dominant force. While they have one Champions League crown since Guardiola’s departure, the side from the capital have an unprecedented five in nine years – making it 14 overall, nine more than Barcelona.

When Guardiola left in 2012, Barcelona were still European football’s most respected and feared side. He left them with a strong core of players and the club was in rude financial health. Everything was set for them to dominate for many more years. So how did they lose their European crown to their most hated rivals? Not through being outspent, that’s for sure.

Especially with Florentino Perez at president, Real Madrid have a well-founded reputation as European royalty, built upon a steady stream of glamour signings. They haven’t been without their modern-day Galacticos – Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez in particular – but their net spend over the past decade is relatively modest at £141million.

Star names – and a core of players that already included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema – have been supplemented by canny purchases like Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos, who have provided the spine of this new era of European dominance.

Madrid have also sold well, recouping almost £800million in player sales, and seemingly choosing the right time to cash in and move on from important players like Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil.

While Hazard proved a costly mis-step for Madrid, Barcelona’s top three signings – Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann – signed for over £100million apiece, have failed to have the desired impact. They received a world-record fee of over £200million for Neymar but categorically failed to reinvest that money effectively.

READ: Ranking the 10 worst signings of Bartomeu’s Barcelona presidency

Barcelona have spent almost £400million more on transfers than Madrid over the past decade, and almost three times as much in net spend.

We’ve broken down the full figures, which come courtesy of Transfermarkt, below:

Real Madrid

Five Biggest Purchases

1. Eden Hazard – £103.50million
2. Gareth Bale – £90.90million
3. James Rodriguez – £67.50million
4. Luka Jovic – £56.70million
5. Eder Militato – £45.00million

Five Biggest Sales

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – £105.30million
2. Angel Di Maria – £67.50million
3. Alvaro Morata – £59.40million
4. Mesut Özil – £42.30million
5. Mateo Kovacic – £40.50million

Total Spent: £940.6million
Total Sold: £799.2million

Total Net Spend: £141.4million


Five Biggest Purchases

1. Ousmane Dembele – £126million
2. Philippe Coutinho – £121.50million
3. Antoine Griezmann – £108million
4. Neymar – £79.20million
5. Frenkie De Jong – £77.40million

Five Biggest Sales

1. Neymar – £199.8million
2. Arthur – £68.40million
3. Alexis Sanchez – £38.25million
4. Paulinho – £37.80million
5. Malcom – £36million

Total Spent: £1.329billion
Total Sold: £857million

Total Net Spend: £472million

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