Jack Grealish is set to seal his move to Manchester City on Thursday. The midfielder is set to leave boyhood club Aston Villa.

The Mail report the fee will be £100 million, a new British record fee, eclipsing the money spent by United on Paul Pogba in 2016.

This means City manager Pep Guardiola has spent a staggering £918 million on players since taking over five years ago.

While they had not broken the record on an individual player up until now, City have relentlessly been adding to their squad with big signings.

City may not be done this summer either. The Mail report City still want to sign Harry Kane, in a deal which would cost above £100 million and take Guardiola’s spend to over £1 billion.

(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

This shows the scale of the challenge Manchester United have to overhaul in order to catch City up.

United have spent too, buying Jadon Sancho for £72 million and two years ago Harry Maguire for £80 million.

The deals for Sancho and Varane take United to slightly over £800 million in fees since 2016.

So what is the difference with City and United?

The difference on United’s part has been that it has been invested poorly at times, and the club have been playing catch-up ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

But go further back, and that is when you will see a difference.

In the five years from 2008 to 2013 between City’s takeover and Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, the blue side of Manchester had a net spend of £419.6 million.


During this time, United spent just £70.1 million net on players.

This was where the damage was done and while Sir Alex Ferguson could paper over the cracks, David Moyes could not.

Ed Woodward overseeing the transfer budget helped contribute to Louis van Gaal’s tenure falling flat. Jose Mourinho tried and United invested at times, but it did not work out either. During this time City did not let up.

Net spend comparison 2008 to present

Before the Jack Grealish move City’s net spend since 2008 stood at £1,270,000,000.

Grealish’s arrival has been slightly offset by departures for Jack Harrison, Lukas Nmecha and Angelino. So their current net spend stands at £1,370,765,000.

In the same timeframe, factoring in deals for Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, United’s net spend is £927,000,000.

Manchester United Unveil New Signing Jadon Sancho
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

City are at 1.37 billion net spend and United £927 million, since City’s takeover. A move for Harry Kane could widen this spending gap.

The sad part is, if not for the Glazers, United would be able to outspend City, as the club generates it’s own money. But with United’s money tied up into servicing debt, the club cannot spend as freely as City can.

It serves to highlight that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit work cut out to try and overhaul City. Solskjaer has beaten Guardiola multiple times, but United’s squad has lacked the consistency to carve out real success.

Solskjaer will still be much maligned by the media if he fails to win the title, but it is hardly fair. City’s spending spree creates an uneven playing field and while United are better served than many to compete, the figures involved make it tough for any club to overhaul them.

Have something to tell us about this article?