Each top-six club’s lowest-spending summer since 2000

Date published: Friday 18th August 2017 2:00


The summer: 2003/04

The spend: £3.1m

The signings:
Philippe Senderos (£1.35m, Servette)
Jens Lehmann (£1.5m, Dortmund)
Johan Djourou (free, Étoile Carouge)
Gaël Clichy (£250,000, Cannes)
Cesc Fàbregas (free, Barcelona)

The other player in the picture is Michal Papadopulos, who was signed on loan in this season from Banik Ostrava. Obviously.

What happened next?
They embarked on the most remarkable and successful top-flight league campaign in modern history. The low-key summer that preceded the ‘Invincibles’ season betrays what Arsenal would go on to achieve, avoiding defeat in 38 Premier League games, and sauntering to the title by 11 points.

Arsene Wenger would reserve his biggest outlay for Jens Lehmann, who played every Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup game upon his £1.5m arrival from Germany. Philippe Senderos was next, while Gael Clichy was the final player of three who Arsenal would pay a fee for. Two were slightly more prosperous purchases than the other.

Speaking of mixed fortunes, the other two permanent signings placed at opposite ends of the success scale. One was one of the greatest prospects of his generation, a youngster who belied his years and broke into an established first team before becoming one of the best players in Premier League history. And after Johan Djourou came Cesc Fabregas.



The summer: 2002/03

The spend: £500,000

The signings:
Enrique de Lucas (free, Espanyol)
Filipe Oliveira (£500,000, Braga)

What happened next?
Perhaps the most important season in Chelsea’s history. Gianfranco Zola, then at the age of 36, fired the Blues to Champions League qualification in what would be both his final and most productive campaign at Stamford Bridge. The icon scored 14 Premier League goals to help Chelsea to a fourth-placed finish, which would tempt Roman Abramovich to invest.

The Russian billionaire has sanctioned signings worth well over £1billion in the 14 years since he took over the club. The first summer transfer window he funded saw 13 new players arrive; 12 months prior, free signing Enrique de Lucas was the marquee purchase.



The summer: 2003/04

The spend: £11.5m

The signings:
Anthony Le Tallec (£1.5m, Le Havre)
Florent Sinama-Pongolle (£1.5, Le Havre)
Steve Finnan (£3.5m, Fulham)
Harry Kewell (£5m, Leeds)
Carl Medjani (free, Saint-Etienne)

What happened next?
Liverpool might not have benefitted from the billionaire investment that has transformed Chelsea and Manchester City. They are not a global marketing beast on the level of Manchester United. But rarely does a summer go by where their wallets remain untouched.

None of Gerard Houllier’s five signings this transfer window were monumental. Harry Kewell, who Inter Milan had bid £25m for during his time at Leeds, joined for just £5m due to the Yorkshire’s club’s financial difficulties. Steve Finnan, a £3.5m acqusition from Fulham, was by far the most successful, while Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Anthony Le Tallec played notable parts in the Champions League victory the following season, but did little else.

And don’t get me started on Carl Medjani. No, seriously, don’t. I’d have no idea where to begin.


Manchester City

The summer: 2004/05

The spend: £750,000

The signings:
Ben Thatcher (£750,000, Leicester)
Geert De Vlieger (free, Willem II)
Danny Mills (free, Leeds)
Ronald Waterreus (free, PSV)

What happened next?
Manchester City have spent one season outside of the Premier League since 2000, and yet their lowest-spending summer in that time came when they were establishing themselves as a top-flight side.

A spend of just £750,000, all of which went on Ben Thatcher, was rewarded with their worst ever Premier League finish without suffering relegation – 16th. Kevin Keegan was seemingly intent on building a team containing the most charming full-back pairing ever, with Danny Mills joining on a free. It is no coincidence that they decide to part with the cash more freely in subsequent years.


Manchester United

The summer: 2005/06

The spend: £7m

The signings:
Edwin van der Sar (£2m, Fulham)
Park Ji-sung (£4m, PSV)
Ben Foster (£1m, Stoke)

What happened next?
Sir Alex Ferguson, as any manager does, signed some terrible players in his time at Manchester United. But the Scot had something of a penchant for an unlikely bargain, and the summer of 2005 is the finest example of his transfer window talents.

Between them, Edwin van der Sar and Park Ji-sung would win 24 trophies, and were signed for a combined £6m. Ben Foster would fail to make the first-team grade, but they made a profit on his sale, and he would develop into a fine goalkeeper.

In fact, despite finishing second behind Chelsea, but the entirety of the 2005/06 season might have been Ferguson’s best in terms of transfers. Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra both struggled after arriving in January, but would fare pretty well eventually.



The summer: 2011/12

The spend: £6.9m

The signings:
Brad Friedel (free, Aston Villa)
Cristian Ceballos (free, Barcelona)
Souleymane Coulibaly (£1.4m, Siena)
Scott Parker (£5.5m, West Ham)

What happened next?
Their joint-highest Premier League finish at the time. Despite a summer of relative under-investment, with freebie Brad Friedel and 1940s fighter pilot and reigning FWA Footballer of the Year Scott Parker the only first-team additions, Tottenham would equip themselves rather well in Harry Redknapp’s final year.

Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele all joined the following summer, the Gareth Bale spending spree came 12 months after that, and Mauricio Pochettino was busy in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17. He is yet to join the party this year, but one can probably expect an outlay of more than £6.9m.


Matt Stead

More Related Articles