Which Premier League team has the best control over it’s wages?

It is a given. Having money, loads of it, greatly improves chances of being competitive in the Premier League. A simple look at the table below clearly shows a relationship between a team’s total wages (Transfermarkt.com) and it’s league standing.

The higher the wages, the higher the league position. Of course, some teams under perform (looking at you, Manchester United) while others over perform (like Wolverhampton), but overall, there is a clear trend.

With that being said, there is a difference between having money or high wages and having quality players that are valuable.

In an ideal world, all Premier League teams would want extremely valuable players on extremely low wages. Sadly, players want to get paid for what they provide. In this hard reality, teams look for one thing: to have their most valuable players paid accordingly.

It is easier said than done. Young players often gain a lot of value as they come through the scene, but their salary does not reflect that right away. On the other side, older players generally have salaries that reflect their past, but not at all their declining market value.

But which Premier League team had the best balance during the 2018-2019 season?

To find out, I first started looking at the Value-to-Wages Ratio, which is: Total Market Value (M$) / Total Yearly Wages (M$). This would help me find out which team had the most advantageous financial situation. Here, the higher the ratio, the more a team gets good value for its wages paid. All numbers were found on a kaggle dataset. Below are the results.

The blue bar represents the league average, which is a ratio of 3.36, meaning that the total market value is 3.36 times higher than the total yearly wages. We see that Tottenham gets the best value for what they pay their players. They indeed have the second most valuable squad while only paying the 5th highest wages. Of the big clubs, Arsenal seemingly are the ones overpaying their players the most for what they are worth on the market. This is a precarious situation, because it makes it more difficult to sell players (not every team can pay those huge contracts) and bring in new acquisitions.

One thing that can affect the Value-to-Wages Ratio are what I will nicely call “dead woods”. Here, dead woods will be defined as aging players that are getting paid like top 10 players on their teams, while their market value is not in the top 10 of said team. Below is a list of dead woods for each of the Top 6 Premier League team.

TeamDead Woods
Manchester CityOtamendi, Kompany
LiverpoolSturridge, Milner, Henderson
ChelseaGiroud, Pedro
Manchester UnitedMata, Smalling, Herrera
ArsenalKoscielny, Monreal

Once again, Tottenham have found a way to avoid paying too much for aging players. This apparent control over their finances might explain why they managed to finish in the top 4 and reach the Champions League final, while not spending a single penny last summer.

It will be interesting to see what other Premier League teams do this summer to catch up with the Spurs!

Below is the code used to get all the needed numbers from the dataset:

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