Roman Abramovich’s takeover of Chelsea in 2003 changed the landscape of English football in a big way.
In one summer, the duopoly of Arsenal and Manchester United was wiped out, and a new giant entered the race for the Premier League title.
Of course since, then their rivals have caught up thanks to spiralling television revenue and Manchester City have also become loaded, but the investment from Abramovich into Chelsea has been massive over the past thirteen or so years.
That being said, Man United have dusted off the chequebook in recent years too, especially since the retirement of Alex Ferguson in 2013. Since then, the club has spent hundreds of millions of pounds, evening breaking the world transfer record this past summer with the £89m re-signing of Paul Pogba.
But how does the sides’ respective spending compare since the day the Russian charged head first into the Premier League – Man United fans often like to taunt Chelsea over their “artificial success” but who has actually spent more in that time?
(Figures below are an approximation, due to fluctuating exchange rates etc.)
Chelsea: Jurgen Macho (Free), Marco Ambrosio (Free), Glen Johnson (£6m), Geremi (£7m), Wayne Bridge (£7m), Damien Duff (£17m), Joe Cole (£6.6m), Juan Verón (£15m), Adrian Mutu (£15.8), Hernán Crespo (£16.8m), Neil Sullivan (5ook), Claude Makélélé (£16m), Scott Parker (£10m) Total: £121.15m
Manchester United: Tim Howard (£2.3), David Bellion (£2m), Eric Djemba-Djemba (£3.5m), Kléberson (£6m), Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.25m), Dong Fanghzuo (£3.5m), Louis Saha (£12.8m), Alan Smith (£7m), Gabriel Heinze (£6.9m) Total: £56.25m
Chelsea: Paulo Ferreira (£13.2m), Petr Cech (£7.1m), Arjen Robben (£12m), Mateja Kezman (£5.3m), Didier Drogba (£24m), Tiago (£10m), Ricardo Carvalho (£19.85m), Jiri Jarosik (£3m) Total: £94.35
Manchester United: Gerard Piqué (Free), Giuseppe Rossi (Free), Wayne Rooney (£27m) Total: £27m
Chelsea: Asier del Horno (£12m), Lassana Diarra (£1m), Shaun Wright-Phillips (£21m), Michael Essien (£24.4m) Total: £58.4m
Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar (£2m), Park Ji-Sung (£4m), Nemanja Vidic (£7m), Patrice Evra (£5.5m) Total: £18.5m
Chelsea: Michael Ballack (Free), Salomon Kalou (£9m), Andriy Shevchenko (£30m), John Obi Mikel (£12m) Khalid Boulahrouz (£8.5m), Ashley Cole (£5m plus William Gallas) Total: £68.5m
Manchester United: Michael Carrick (£18.6m) Total: £18.6m
Chelsea: Claudio Pizarro (Free), Tal Ben-Haim (Free), Steve Sidwell (Free), Florent Malouda (£13.5m), Fabio Borini (Free), Juliano Belletti (£5m) Nicolas Anelka (£15m), Branislav Ivanovic (£9.7m) Total: £43.2m
Manchester United: Owen Hargreaves (£17m), Anderson (£20m), Nani (£15m), Thomas Kuszczak (£2.1m), Rodrigo Possebon (£2.5m), Manucho (£800k), Davide Petrucci (£200k) Total: £57.6m
Chelsea: José Bosingwa (£16.2m), Deco (£7.9m), Mineiro (Free) Gokhan Tore (£500k) Total: £24.6m
Manchester United: Fabio and Rafael Da Silva (combined £5.2m), Dimitar Berbatov (£30.75m), Zoran Tosic (£5m) Ritchie De Laet (£200k) Total: £41.15m
Chelsea: Ross Turnbull (Free), Daniel Sturridge (£6.5m), Yuri Zhirkov (£18m), Nemanja Matic (£1.5m) Total: £25m
Manchester United: Antonio Valenia (£16m), Michael Owen (Free), Gabriel Obertan (£3m), Mame Biram Diouf (£2.5m) Total: £21.5m
Chelsea: Yossi Benayoun (£5.5m), Tomas Kalas (£5.2m), Ramires (£19.5m), Matej Delac (£900k), Fernando Torres (£50m), David Luiz (£22m) Total: £103.1m
Manchester United: Bébé (£7m), Chris Smalling (£6m), Javier Hernández (£6.3m), Anders Lindegaard (£3.5m) Total: £22.8m
Chelsea: Juan Mata (23.5m), Ulises Davila (£1.75m), Raul Meireles (£12m), Thibaut Courtois (£8m), Oriol Romeu (£4.5m), Romelu Lukaku (£10.68m) Total: £60.43m
Manchester United: David de Gea (£17.8m), Phil Jones (16m), Ashley Young (£15m), Paul Scholes (Free) Total: £48.8m
Chelsea: Charly Musonda (£1.75m), Marko Marin (£6.5m), Eden Hazard (£32m), Thorgan Hazard (£800k), Oscar (£19.5m), César Azpilicueta (£7m), Victor Moses (£7m) Total: £74.55m
Manchester United: Robin van Persie (£26m), Wilfired Zaha (£10m), Nick Powell (£6m), Ángelo Henríquez (£4.5m), Alex Buttner (£4m), Shinji Kagawa (£12.8m) Total: £63.3m
Chelsea: André Schurrle (£18.7m), Marko van Ginkel (£8m), Mark Schwarzer (Free), Cristián Cuevas (£1.7m), Willian (£30m), Samiel Eto’o (£2m), Christian Atsu (£3.5m), Nemanja Matic (£21m), Mohamed Salah (£11m), Kurt Zouma (£12.5m) Total: £108.4m
Manchester United: Guillermo Varela (£1m), Marouane Fellaini (£27.5m), Juan Mata (£37m) Total: £64.5m
Chelsea: Cesc Fabregas (£27m), Diego Costa (£32m), Filipe Luis (£15.8), Didier Drogba (Free), Loic Remy (£10.5m) Total: £85.3m
Manchester United: Ander Herrera (£29m), Luke Shaw (£30m), Marcos Rojo (£16m), Ángel Di María (£59,7m), Daley Blind (£14m), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (£300k), Victor Valdés (Free) Total: £149m
Chelsea: Asmir Begovic (£8m), Danilo Pantic (£1.25m), Baba Rahman (£14m), Pedro (£21.4m), Kenedy (£6.3m), Papy Djiliobodji (£2.7m), Michael Hector (£4m), Marco Amelia (Free), Matt Miazga (£3.5m) Total: £61.15m
Manchester United: Memhpis Depay (£24.6m) Matteo Darmian (£12.7m), Bastian Schweinsteiger (£6.5m), Morgan Schneiderlin (£24m), Anthony Martial (£36m), Sergio Romero (Free) Total: £103.8m
Chelsea: Michy Batshuayi (£33.2m), N’Golo Kanté (£30m), Marcos Alonso (£23m), David Luiz (£30m) Total: £116.2m
Manchester United: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Free), Eric Bailly (£30m), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£30m), Paul Pogba (£89m) Total: £149m
Total Expenditure (2003 – 2016)
Manchester United: £777.5million
The above figures show that Chelsea have indeed spent significantly more than Man United, averaging out at about £80.3m spent per season at Chelsea compared to £59.8m (or approximately one Ángel Di María) per season.
It should be noted that roughly £400m of that £777m figure for man United has been spent in the past three seasons, confirming that Alex Ferguson’s retirement coincided with a huge increase in spending.
In that time, Man United have won the Premier League five times, compared to Chelsea’s four. Each has won the Champions League once in this period.