Manchester United have emerged as the club with the highest annual wage bill in the Premier League.
Recent data from FBREF shows that over the past season, the Red Devils have outspent their Premier League rivals, including free-spending Chelsea, and oil-rich Manchester City to attain the dubious distinction of being the league’s most spendthrift club in terms of player wages.
As the data shows, United are expected to spend an astronomical £200,996,000 across the 2023/2024 season, approximately eight million pounds clear of Man City who have come in second with a wage bill of £192,712,000.
That United have been unable to match City’s results despite investing at roughly the same level is a continuous cause for concern – one Erik ten Hag and the likes of John Murtough and Darren Fletcher, director of football and technical director respectively, will be preoccupied with solving.
Even more concerningly, clubs with much lower wage bills are producing more consistent results.
For example, Brighton and Hove Albion, who humiliated United when the two sides clashed on Saturday, have an annual wage bill of only £47,268,000 – less than a fourth of the corresponding figure for United.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, the Red Devils have struggled under successive managers, frequently resorting to inordinately high financial inducements to lure talent to Old Trafford.
Not only has this approach frequently failed – as with the high-profile transfers of Angel di Maria, Paul Pogba and others, it has now meant that United are often unable to sell underperforming assets.
Of particular note is embattled former skipper, Harry Maguire, who despite United’s best efforts to find him a new home, remains at Old Trafford, where he has increasingly fallen down the pecking order.
It was thought that a departure for West Ham would have suited all parties, however, the English centre back’s wages were simply way too high and ultimately proved to be an insurmountable hurdle in getting a deal done.
From United’s perspective, topping the wage-spend charts is certainly not the sort of achievement that is required.
Ten Hag and the other decision-makers at Old Trafford will be hoping to bring United’s financial expenditure within reasonable levels and simultaneously turn United’s investment into tangible results.