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Los Blancos have shelled out stratospheric sums over the last decade, including €257.4m in 2009 alone, while the Catalans have also spent significantly in the same time period

SPECIAL REPORT
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

It is not quite cantera versus cartera. To say that Real Madrid buy big while Barcelona compete with their rivals' financial might merely by promoting youth talent is only a half-truth at best. Both Spanish sides spend serious sums in the transfer market, but over the last decade Madrid's outlay is indeed higher - los Blancos have shelled out almost a billion in player purchases since signing David Beckham in 2003, some €300m more than the Catalan club.

One more big summer signing and Madrid will surpass a billion in outlay on new signings, although the net figure for the last decade (also taking into account player sales in the same time frame) currently stands at €609.15m. Barcelona, meanwhile, have spent €648.35m since the summer of 2003 (when Joan Laporta took over as president and Ronaldinho arrived from Paris Saint-Germain). The Catalans' net total for transfer spending since stands at €429.61m.

In 2003, Barcelona brought in Ronaldinho (€32.25m), Rafa Marquez and the less successful Ricardo Quaresma as the Catalans kicked off a new project under Laporta. Meanwhile, Real recruited only Beckham (€37.5m) and allowed Claude Makelele to leave for €20m and join Chelsea. Despite making money through shirt sales, the Englishman's positive performances and a net spend of just €5.7m, selling the former France midfielder and dispensing with coach Vicente del Bosque proved to be disastrous decisions for the capital club.

MADRID & BARCA SPENDING SINCE 2003

Season

€42.5m
(€36.5m net)
2013-14 €70m
(€69m net)
 €33.5m
(€0m net)
2012-13 €33m
(€32.5m net)
 €55m
(€47m net)
2011-12  €60m
(€13.05m net)
 €89m
(€79m net)
2010-11 €72.5m
(€19.8m net)
 €257.4m
(€169.9m net)
2009-10 €93m
(€88.5m net)
 €82.2m
(€12.9m net)
2008-09 €96m
(€40.56m net)
 €119m
(€78.6m net)
2007-08  €68.5m
(€54.5m net)
 €103m
(€87.8m net)
2006-07  €31m
(€18m net)
 €89.5m
(€44.3m net)
2005-06 €0m
(€-3m net)
 €56.7m
(€47.45m net)
2004-05 €78.5m
(€63.75m net)
€37.5m
(€5.7m net)
2003-04 €45.85m
(€32.95m net)
TOTAL OUTLAY OVER LAST DECADE

Time
Span

 €965.3m
(€609.15m net)
 2003-13  €648.35m
(€429.61m net)
Neither Barca nor Madrid won La Liga that season as the title went to Valencia, but it has been either Blanco or Blaugrana ever since.

In 2004, Barca again outspent Madrid as the project overseen by Laporta and Frank Rijkaard continued to take shape. Samuel Eto'o arrived from Mallorca (with permission from part-owners Madrid) for €27m, while Deco joined in a €21 deal from Porto. Monaco's Ludovic Giuly was an €8.5m addition in a total outlay of €78.5m. By contrast, Madrid's major signings proved less of a hit; Walter Samuel arrived for €23m, Jonathan Woodgate for €18.3m and Michael Owen cost €12m. That season, Barca won La Liga for the first time since 1999.

With a successful squad now in place, the Catalan club brought in only one player the following summer as Mark van Bommel arrived on a free transfer from PSV Eindhoven. Sergio Garcia and Fabio Rochemback's sales (for €1.5m apiece) meant Rijkaard's side actually made a €3m profit in the summer of 2005. And the following season brought both La Liga and the Champions League as Madrid bought big but ended up with nothing to show for it in 2005-06. Samuel left for a €5m loss, but Owen departed to Newcastle for a tidy €13m profit. Robinho (at €24m) put in some impressive performances but ultimately failed to live up to expectations at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Julio Baptista was an expensive disappointment at €20m. Sergio Ramos, signed from Sevilla for €27m, has gone on to become a spectacular success, however.

Barcelona's dominance looked set to continue in 2006-07, following the summer signings of Eidur Gudjohnsen (€12m from Chelsea), Lilian Thuram (€5m from Juventus) and Gianluca Zambrotta (€14m from the same side), but Madrid mounted a late comeback in La Liga to claim the title under Fabio Capello - helped along by new recruits Ruud van Nistelrooy (€15m from Manchester United), Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson (both €11.5m from Juve), as well as Gonzalo Higuain (€12m from River Plate. Mahamadou Diarra at €26m, however, turned out to be bad business, as did Fernando Gago at €20.5m.

Capello left in the summer of 2007 and new boss Bernd Schuster bought big: Arjen Robben joined from Chelsea for €36m, Wesley Sneijder arrived from Ajax at €27m, Porto's Pepe moved for €30m, Royston Drenthe cost €14m and Gabriel Heinze €12m. Not all of them proved successful, but Madrid did retain La Liga. Barca, who had shelled out €24m to bring in Thierry Henry, €20m for Gabi Milito and €15m for Eric Abidal, again ended the campaign empty-handed. Those players, however, along with €9m Yaya Toure, would prove important under Pep Guardiola in 2008-09.

Guardiola dispensed with Ronaldinho (sold to AC Milan for €25m) and Deco (who went to Chelsea for €10m), but brought in Dani Alves for €35.5m, Seydou Keita for €14m (both from Sevilla) and Gerard Pique for just €5m from Manchester United. Aleksandr Helb at €17m, Martin Caceres at €16m and Henrique for €8m struggled, yet the Catalans enjoyed the best campaign in their history as they won La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. Madrid, meanwhile, splashed €27m on Klass-Jan Huntelaar, €20m on Lass Diarra and €15m on Rafael van der Vaart, only to end up without a trophy. One positive, however, was the healthy profit made on Robinho, sold to Manchester City for €43m.

The following summer saw huge investment from both teams. Huntelaar (€15m) Sneijder (€15m) and Robben (€20m) left Madrid as Florentino Perez returned to the presidency and splashed the cash on several superstars - including Cristiano Ronaldo for €94m, Kaka at €65m and Xabi Alonso at €35.4m. But Barca, who let Eto'o leave for Inter as part of the €69.5m deal which brought Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Camp Nou, reclaimed La Liga in Guardiola's second season.

The Catalans' substantial spending in 2009 was dwarfed by Madrid's total outlay of €257.4m that same summer and Real bought big again in 2010 as Jose Mourinho arrived. Raul and Guti left for free, while Van der Vaart was bought by Tottenham for €10m as Real recruited Angel Di Maria (€33m) Mesut Ozil (€18m), Sami Khedira (€14m) and more. Barca, meanwhile, brought in David Villa for €40m from Valencia and Javier Mascherano for €20m from Liverpool, but the Catalans' net spend was under €20m in total thanks to the sales of Yaya Toure (€30m to Manchester City), Dmytro Chygrynskiy (to Dinamo Kiev for €15m, a loss of €10m) and the loan of Ibrahimovic to Milan for €6m with a view to a permanent €24m deal the following summer.


"The best players aren't expensive..."| Florentino Perez with €94m man Cristiano Ronaldo

Barca claimed La Liga and the Champions League in 2010-11, although Madrid did win the Copa del Rey. And in 2011-12, Mourinho's men took the title from their fierce rivals after more significant spending in the summer, with Fabio Coentrao brought in for the still-surprising sum of €30m. Nuri Sahin and Raphael Varane also arrived at €10m apiece, as well as €5m Jose Callejon, while Ezequiel Garay departed for €5.5m to Benfica. Barca bought big with two star signings, as Cesc Fabregas (€34m) and Alexis Sanchez (€26m) came in. Funds were recouped as Ibrahimovic departed for €24m, along with Bojan Krkic for €12m to Roma - although Barca have this summer been forced to buy him back for a million more.

Just two players joined Barca in 2012 as well, with €14m Jordi Alba arriving from Valencia and Arsenal's Alex Song signing for €19m to play under Tito Vilanova as the Catalan club reclaimed the title but suffered a humiliating 7-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals. Madrid, meanwhile, made one major signing as Luka Modric joined from Tottenham, but total outlay was zero due to several key departures - including those of Gago, Diarra, Sergio Canales, Hamit Altintop and Esteban Granero. And aside from the Spanish Supercopa, Madrid ended up with nothing in Mourinho's final campaign.

This summer, Barca have shelled out €57m on Neymar and bought back Bojan for €13m (as part of the original arrangement with Roma), while Madrid have recruited Isco for around €30m, plus Casemiro and Dani Carvajal for around €6m each as Pedro Leon's move to Getafe has been confirmed for a similar fee. One more major signing and the club's outlay since 2003 will hit a billion, while Barca's spending in the same time period is also astronomic. No wonder the rest of La Liga cannot compete.

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