Association football, often called soccer, is the world’s most popular sport. More than 250 million players from over 200 countries enjoy what is affectionately known as “The Beautiful Game.” As an industry, soccer is worth an estimated $600 billion worldwide, with countless more billions generated annually from soccer-related equipment sales, soccer-specific gambling, and television revenue.
Every year, Forbes publishes a list of the most valuable soccer teams. The current top five have a combined value of $27.86 billion.
Extend that to the top ten, and the figure is an eye-watering $45.09 billion. Of the top 30, two teams are French, two are German, three are Spanish, four are Italian, and seven hail from the United States, with the remaining 12 playing in the English Premier League.
But who are the five most valuable soccer teams on the planet? Let us find out.
Real Madrid – Spain – $6.07 billion
Real Madrid was the world’s most valuable soccer team when Forbes compiled its latest rich list. Forbes’ list works on valuations from one season before the current campaign, so it includes Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League victory.
Real Madrid is one of the three founding members of Spain’s La Liga that has never been relegated.
Indeed, quite the opposite is true because Real Madrid is one of the most successful soccer teams in the game and one that the best site for sports betting always lists as a clear favorite for victory.
“Los Blancos” has won the La Liga title a record 35 times, with its 2021–22 Champions League title being a record 14th such victory.
The Spanish giant enjoyed $807 million in revenue for the dates Forbes looked at. Yet, the club lost $38 million before taxes, thanks partly to the astronomical wages the club pays to attract and keep the game’s best players.
Manchester United – England – $6 billion
Manchester United is not only one of the most successful English soccer teams, but it is also one of the biggest brands in world sports.
Currently, there is a bidding war brewing between two parties interested in purchasing the club, with up to $6.3 billion being touted as the latest figure.
“The Red Devils” have won the English top division title a record 20 times and were the dominant team in England for the first two decades of the Premier League.
United won 13 of the first 20 Premier League titles, with that unmatched success resulting in soccer fans from far and wide suddenly becoming Manchester United supporters.
No team in the Premier League attracts sponsorship revenue like Manchester United. The club just signed a 10-year contract extension with Adidas worth $1.15 billion.
Barcelona – Spain – $5.51 billion
Aside from Real Madrid, FC Barcelona is the only Spanish soccer team in the top 30 most valuable clubs.
Almost since the inception of La Liga, Barcelona, and Real Madrid have fought it out to be the number one team in Spain.
Madrid has the advantage in La Liga titles – Barcelona has won La Liga 27 times – but Barcelona has an advantage in all the Spanish cups.
Match days are worth $800 million each season for Barcelona due to their Camp Nou home holding 99,000 passionate supporters.
Barcelona is currently renovating its stadium at the cost of $1.3 billion, which will take the capacity to 105,000.
Barcelona plans to use its expanded stadium to hold concerts throughout the year, increasing its commercial revenue from the massive $1.8 billion valuation Forbes assigned.
Liverpool – England – $5.29 billion
Liverpool of the English Premier League ranks fourth among the world’s most valuable soccer teams, with a $5.29 billion valuation.
That figure stems from the 2021–22 season when Liverpool announced a record-high revenue of $793 million, an incredible figure assisted by reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League.
The American company Fenway Sports Group purchased Liverpool for $470 million in October 2010, so a $5.29 billion valuation is an incredible return on that investment.
Of all the top five most valuable teams, Liverpool has the second-lowest debt-to-value ratio, one of only 2%.
That already low figure would likely have been zero if Liverpool was not in the process of expanding one of the stands into its stadium to take the total capacity to 61,000.
Next season’s valuation will likely see Liverpool drop out of the top five because they failed to qualify for the lucrative UEFA Champions League and will compete in the Europa League instead.
Manchester City – England – $4.99 billion
Manchester City was nowhere near one of the most valuable soccer clubs until recently, when they became one of the most feared teams in world soccer.
In 2008, the Abu Dhabi United Group, headed by Sheihk Mansour, took over the Citizens and has since invested nearly $4 billion in the team and its infrastructure.
Sheihk Mansour has a personal fortune north of $21 billion despite plowing money in the blue half of Manchester.
Since the 2011–12 Premier League season, Manchester City has never finished lower than fourth in the table and has won the Premier League seven times, including five of the past six competitions.
They have also won the FA Cup three times and the League Cup six times. City won the UEFA Champions League last season, although that is not considered in Forbes’ most recent report.
The club is in hot water with the Premier League over alleged financial irregularities. The Premier League claims Manchester City has failed to provide accurate financial reports, so the current $4.99 billion valuation may be inaccurate.
Who Makes Up the Current Top 10?
Germany’s Bayern Munich ($4.86 billion) occupies the sixth place, partly because their $133 million operating income trails only Manchester City and ninth-placed Tottenham Hotspur ($2.8 billion).
Tottenham has a long-term deal with the National Football League (NFL) to host games at its state-of-the-art stadium.
France’s Paris Saint-Germain may have recorded $219 million in losses in 2021–22, but they are still the seventh most valuable soccer team, worth $4.21 billion.
Chelsea ($3.1 billion) of the Premier League is eighth, the Tottenham mentioned above ninth, and Premier League giants Arsenal tenth ($2.26 billion).