Following the fortunes of clubs who recently slashed their wage bills: AC Milan, Arsenal, Barca...

Even in the business of football, there are times when clubs can lose complete control of their finances. Here, we take a closer look at six teams who have recently cut their wage bills.

AC Milan's Paulo Maldini got a lot of fans talking on social media this week, following the publication of the club's reduced wage bill. 

Maldini, who retired from football in 2009, has since exchanged his boots and shin pads for a suit and tie as he works as AC Milan's technical director.

The 53-year-old was promoted to the role in 2019, and he has since made a lot of changes to the way I Rossoneri go about their business.

His main achievement has been slashing the club's enormous wage bill, which - despite its ominous look - failed to reap rewards when it came to on-field matters.

During the 2018/19 campaign, the club recorded an annual wage bill of £118.6million. Interestingly, only six players from that side are still in the team today, among them Alessio Romagnoli, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Franck Kessie.

Alessio Romagnoli (13) of AC Milan seen in the Serie A match

The numbers for the 2021/22 season certainly make healthier reading, with the club spending £68.1million on their payroll. Interestingly, the reduction in wages has had a positive impact on results, with the team sitting top of Serie A.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romagnoli and Alessandro Florenzi are the top three earners. However, with all three having contracts that expire at the end of this season, that wage bill could be set to plummet further.

But before that happens, let's take a closer look at how other clubs have dealt with spiralling wage bills.


Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger.

Arsene Wenger was infamous for running a tight ship and always looking after the finances at Arsenal. However, the Frenchman did go a bit crazy in his final season, with the annual wage bill climbing up to £158.2million.

The 2017/18 season was very much a transition one for the club. A lot of familiar faces left the Emirates, with a lot of new ones added.

The likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrived in north London, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez were among the departures.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil on the bench

The three new signings, alongside Mesut Ozil, made up four of the top five earners at the club during that campaign, with the German banking over £18million in annual earnings alone.

Despite having the second-highest wage bill in the Premier League, the Gunners managed a mere sixth-placed finish, while the only silverware they picked up was the Community Shield.

Unai Emery replaced Wenger but didn't make many significant changes as the wage bill stood at £135.3million. The following season, that figure fell to £118.5million, with Mikel Arteta taking charge towards the end of the campaign.

Mikel Arteta contract extension

Fast forward to the current season, and the wage bill stands at a much more manageble £87.3million. The departures of Ozil, Aubameyang, and even Willian - who was earning £7.2million per year - have proved major factors in the reduction.

More importantly, Arsenal appear to be more competitive and are on track to bag a Champions League return, bagging them a further financial windfall.


Camp Nou Stadium

Barcelona's financial troubles have been well documented over the last couple of years - they're also self-inflicted.

When a club splashes out nine-figure sums like its pocket change, trouble will never be too far away, and that has proven to be the case for the Catalan giants.

The wage bill at Camp Nou hit an eye-watering high of £202.4million during the 2017/18 season. A new contract for Lionel Messi in the following campaign took that number up to £222.7million, with the Argentine's share making up almost £60million alone.

Antoine Griezmann in action for Barcelona

Just when you thought that couldn't be trumped, a summer spending spree of £230million did just that as the additions of Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong and others increased the annual wage bill to £278.6million.

Barcelona's careless financial management caught up with them as Covid-19 took hold. While players initially agreed to a 70% wage cut, president Josep Maria Bartomeu failed to agree a new one once football resumed.

Players and the club battled over contracts in the following months, before Bartomeu finally resigned in October 2020.

Lionel Messi weeps during his farewell news conference at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona

With bankruptcy a real possibility, the club turned to Joan Laporta who became president for a second time.

Financial issues forced a number of changes, including the shock departure of Lionel Messi. Then, in August 2021, Laporta revealed the true extent of the club's financial black hole - a debt worth over £1.15billion.

Barcelona have since sliced their wage bill to £168million. And, with Xavi Hernandez overseeing matters on the pitch, the picture is looking much more rosy.


Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy

One club which dramatically cut their wage bill in recent times is Tottenham Hotspur.

During the 2020/21 campaign, the London outfit spent £134.5million in annual wages - just short of Manchester City's annual expenditure.

Yet this season, Spurs are not even among the top six spenders, having racked up a wage bill of just £75.5million - less than Everton and only slightly more than Crystal Palace, Leicester City and West Ham United.

So what's changed?

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale, for one, had a lot to do with it. The Real Madrid attacker enjoyed a loan spell at Spurs in 2020/21, with the north London club contributing £20million towards his wages.

On top of that, Spurs have parted ways with Dele Alli, Moussa Sissoko, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela - players all towards the top end of the club's wage scale.

However, with Antonio Conte setting his sights on something a little more ambitious than a top-four finish next season, the downward trend won't last for long.


Juventus player Cristiano Ronaldo

Another club who have reined in their spending are Juventus.

Following three expensive years with Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad, the Old Lady have significantly cut their wage bill.

From a peak of £210.1million for the 2019/20 season, the amount of money devoted to their wage bill has dropped to £135.3million for the 2021/2022 campaign.

Consequently, Juventus have endured a drop-off in their on-field performances, with the team set to finish fourth in Serie A.

However, considering they won the title 10 years on the spin, it's fair to say the club were due a barren year or two. And this way, while their trophy cabinet may be empty, at least their coffers won't be.

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