The 2021/22 Premier League season is almost at its end.
Liverpool remain in the hunt for the title but know that they will need back to back wins against Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and for leaders Manchester City to slip up to have any chance of claiming the title which they won back in 2020.
The league table has almost worked itself out, too, with the top four taking a big step to being sorted following Arsenal’s 2-0 loss at Newcastle United on Monday night, a result that puts Tottenham Hotspur with one foot in next season’s Champions League and on the on the cusp of a fourth placed finish that had seemed unlikely prior to Antonio Conte’s arrival at the club.
The Europa League and Europa Conference League slots are also nearly settled, with Arsenal and Manchester United looking like heading for the former, with West Ham United set to make the latter, although the Hammers could still trade places with United on the final day of the Premier League season this weekend.
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The final relegation place is also yet to be determined, with Southampton, Everton, Leeds United and Burnley all facing an anxious end to their season as they seek to avoid relegation to the Championship and the significant financial impact that goes along with that.
Hundreds of millions of pounds has been spent assembling these teams by Premier League clubs, in some cases pushing very close to £1bn. The total spend by Premier League clubs, as per official club accounts of the 20 teams, has been a staggering £7.84bn.
But how many of those teams are getting value, and are Liverpool? The answer to the latter, when compared to the spend of those around them is a resounding yes.
Liverpool’s squad cost as per the club’s most recent set of financial accounts stands at £709m, according to figures presented by football finance expert and author of the Price of Football, Kieran Maguire.
That figure puts Liverpool at fourth on the squad cost list but some considerable distance behind the top three of Chelsea (£959m), Manchester City (£975m) and Manchester United (£980m). The difference in cost between Liverpool’s squad and Manchester City’s squad is £270m, a figure that to put into context is worth just £11m more than the entire squad cost of West Ham United (£259m), £9m more than Southampton’s total squad cost and just £2m short of Aston Villa’s total squad cost (£272m). The £270m difference is also more than the combined squad costs of Norwich City (£52m), Brentford (£68m) and Burnley (£122m).
Liverpool’s approach under Fenway Sports Group has long been about putting investment into strategy and recruitment and tasking them with finding the right kind of player for the right kind of price, seeking the value in players that other clubs might have missed. It is an approach that is at odds with that of the biggest spenders on the list, Manchester United, whose £980m squad cost has ballooned to such a figure due to their overpaying on players who simply haven’t delivered. United could find themselves in the Europa Conference League come the end of the season and it has been nine years since they last lifted a Premier League title, while Liverpool are still in the title hunt, have won the FA Cup and Carabao Cup this season and have a Champions League final to look forward to.
Looking at the squad cost against the number of Premier League points accrued this season gives an idea about who has and who hasn’t spent the money wisely. Liverpool have spent just over £8.2m per point this season, while Manchester City’s spend per point comes out at a little over £10.8m per point. Chelsea, in third place in the Premier League, have spent £13.7m per point, while fourth placed Spurs have been getting value for money with £7.1m per point.
Manchester United, the biggest spenders according to the most recent club accounts, have not been spending money wisely, with the Old Trafford club having spent £16.9m per point, more than double what Liverpool have been spending and highlighting the difference in approach between the two clubs.
West Ham United have been getting remarkable value for money this season. The Hammers have spent £4.6m per point to reach seventh, with the club potentially still able to leapfrog Manchester United and finish sixth despite spending 73 per cent less than United per point when placed against squad cost. The Hammers, similar to Liverpool, have sought to bring in undervalued talent, as has been seen in the cases of Jarrod Bowen, Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal. David Moyes’ men held Manchester City to a 2-2 draw at the London Stadium on Sunday to keep the title dream alive for Liverpool.
At the other end of the table, Everton’s squad cost of £451m and their points tally of just 36 in what has been a dismal Premier League campaign means that they have spent £12.5m per point this season.