Shooting stars: Which Premier League clubs spend most on their attack?

As football fans, there are few better feelings than the excitement of your club signing a new striker. The sense of hope and optimism that this could be a transfer of real impact – the birth of a new club legend – sets the heart beating a little faster for even the most hardened cynics in the game.

Perhaps football managers and owners feel the same, and that’s why Premier League clubs are so obsessed with signing forwards. More likely, it’s because they know that goals win titles, and, that they are extremely difficult to come by in regular supply.

Since summer 2011, Premier League clubs have signed 81 strikers (excluding loan signings) across six transfer windows, for a cumulative total of just over half a billion pounds (yes, that’s more than £500,000,000). But which current Premier League clubs have spent most on new strikers, and what impact has it had on their fortunes?

Which clubs have spent the most on transfer fees for strikers between 2011-2014?

strikers fees


All data from

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Manchester City have spent most on new strikers in the last three years, splashing out a whopping £84 million on just three new forwards – Kun Aguero, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic. Of the three, Aguero has been the by far the biggest success, netting 50 Premier League goals in 84 appearances to date, and firing City to their first Premier League title in generations.

Alvaro Negredo has certainly impressed in his debut season, even if the goals have dried up of late. Injury has prevented Jovetic from demonstrating his ability this season, as he has been limited to just eight league appearances.

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Rather more surprising is the fact that only Manchester City have spent more on strikers in the last three years than relegation battling Sunderland, and no club has signed a greater number of new forwards during the period. Incredibly, the Black Cats have spent over £42 million on eight new strikers since 2011, including around £28 million on Steven Fletcher, Jozy Altidore and Danny Graham alone.

Yet in total, this outlay has brought a return of just 18 goals, the vast majority of which (14) have been scored by Fletcher.  That’s over £2 million spent in fees (let alone wages…) per goal scored. And despite spending vast sums, they appear no closer to the right forward line up – this season only two sides have scored fewer goals than Sunderland in the league and barring an upturn in form, the Wearsiders can contemplate their mistakes while playing Championship football next season.

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Manchester United and Chelsea have spent similar amounts on new forwards, but it is noticeable that they have been buying forwards from different parts of the market. Manchester United have spent nearly £32 million on two new strikers, with the vast majority used to bring Robin van Persie to the club in 2012 – a spectacularly successful acquisition that fired United to the title that season.

Chelsea by contrast have spent over £28 million, but on 5 strikers, at an average cost of just £5.5 million. The difference is even more marked when you consider that over two thirds of that total was used to recruit Romelu Lukaku, who has registered just eight appearances for the Blues, and is yet to score a league goal. Chelsea lag significantly behind their closest rivals this season in terms of goals scored, so it’s no surprise that Jose Mourinho is prioritising the recruitment of a world class striker this summer.

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Newcastle, Everton and West Brom find themselves towards the bottom of the table of fees spent on new strikers in the last three years, but by taking advantage of the loan market, have still been able to field talented strikers.

Romelu Lukaku may not have scored yet for Chelsea, but his goals record at both West Brom and Everton has been impressive, and crucial to each club’s fortunes. The Belgian first moved on loan to the West Midlands in 2012, then to Merseyside in 2013, netting 17 and 12 league goals respectively.

Newcastle opted against signing a striker on a permanent deal in 2013, instead choosing to recruit QPR’s Loic Remy on a season long loan, after the West London club were relegated the previous season. The Frenchman has been a revelation for the Geordies, netting 13 times in the league – more than any of the other 26 strikers signed during the summer transfer window.

Perhaps trying to repeat the trick, Newcastle signed Luuk de Jong on loan this winter, although the Dutch international has yet to find the net.


To be successful in the Premier League, you must be able to score goals. It is understandable then that top flight clubs spend a fortune on bolstering their attacks, regardless of which part of the league they are realistically competing within. Some like the two Manchester clubs, have the resources to target specific players operating at an elite level, while others, like Sunderland, have made a number of costly mistakes in trying to recruit strikers that can score the goals they need to progress.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on the Black Cats – perhaps not on the same scale, but, almost every club in the Premier League have wasted money on attacking signings that have not delivered, a clear reminder that transfers are inherently risky.

Perhaps perceiving this, other clubs have chosen to opt out of splashing the cash on attacking reinforcements, and are instead exploiting the loan market. In addition to the examples of Remy at Newcastle, and Lukaku at Everton and West Brom, Emmanuel Adebayor scored 17 goals for Tottenham while on loan at White Hart Lane in 2012.

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But while using the loan market can reduce the risks associated with big money recruitment, it brings with it other challenges. The number of quality strikers available for loan is inherently smaller, and if you do find a gem, there is no guarantee you can retain his services for the long term. This can cause big problems for the balance of a squad – for example, having benefitted from Lukaku’s services in 2012, West Brom have struggled without him in 2013.

So, questions remain as to whether clubs can significantly progress without taking a risk on building a squad of quality players signed to permanent contracts –both Newcastle and Everton should bear that in mind as they plan for next season, and Premier League clubs resume their search for star strikers.


  1. Jhonny Canuck says:

    “Romelu Lukaku may not have scored yet for Chelsea…”

    It’s not surprising at all. He played less than 200 minutes for chelsea.

  2. Thia article is so innacurate it’s unbelievable!
    Liverpool spent a total of £32m have they…. what about Carroll at £35m, Suarez at £25m and Sturridge at £15m…. who can forget Chelsea spending £50m on Torres….. even Cardiff’s figure is wrong as they spent £11m last summer on two forwards…..
    Guess it doesn’t sway the figures as much if you post the actual amounts 😉

    • Andy – the starting point for collecting the numbers is summer 2011. Yes, clubs did sign strikers in previous windows, but hard to know how that could be avoided. Re Sessegnon – the table only includes strikers.

  3. Oh, and West Brom spent £12m this summer on Anichebe and Sessegnon alone…… but hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of a good article…..!!


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