In the other leagues, austerity is the rule. Some big teams are not spared, such as Barcelona and Juventus Turin, penalized by expensive recruitments and recurrent failures in the Champions League. One had to part with Lionel Messi, whose salary had become unsustainable, the other with Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to Manchester United.
French Ligue 1 (excluding PSG), which is highly dependent on the sale of locally trained or valued players, is threatened by the market contraction. Having a business model based on training players, the survival of most of the French clubs is linked to the realization of capital gains by transfer trading, a situation that is financially dangerous and can negatively affect clubs’ results.
In Ligue 1, Paris-Saint-Germain remains an exception: The club is in eighth place in the most negative transfer balance since the beginning of the crisis (- €133 million), behind six English clubs and a single Italian one (Juventus). By recruiting mainly free players this summer, including Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Sergio Ramos, PSG efforts have been more focused on salaries than on transfer fees.
More generally, the clubs of the European big 5 remain the best equipped to emerge from the crisis on top. With the relaxation of the constraints of financial fair play (UEFA's revenue-expenditure regulation system) the best managed clubs and those whose owners have intact resources have seized the opportunity to invest massively.
According to the CIES monthly report n°67, all indicators reflect the trend towards a concentration of spending by the richest clubs: Paris and the two Manchester clubs are the perfect illustrations in this respect: For the period 2012-2021, their balance of purchases and sales of players is negative by 1 billion euros each, far ahead of their rivals. “It has been said that the crisis and the failure of the Super League project should be used to impose stricter rules, but this seems to have already disappeared. However, without regulatory measures, the differences can only increase. The crisis has not been violent enough to bring down and rebuild the system, but it has been violent enough to put the weakest clubs in difficulty and strengthen the position of the dominant ones.”