Attempting to decide who the best football club in Europe is will always be tough. Partisan allegiance and animosity will affect viewpoints to make the argument seemingly never-ending, but that doesn’t stop fans from all over the world naming their favorite teams anyway – so who are the five biggest football clubs in Europe?
The problem with naming the top five clubs is that there are so many different criteria to take into consideration, and what constitutes “biggest” can also come under scrutiny.
Most football fans will make their decision purely on the success of the clubs in question. This can be defined historically or by the modern era, but the number of trophies won is what matters. If this is the case, then Spanish giants Real Madrid would have to be up there. They won the first five European Cups and are regularly vying for the Spanish league title with their arch-rivals Barcelona.
However, if money comes into the equation, then there are some clubs who come into contention who have not had such a trophy-filled history. The most recent Forbes list of the most valuable football clubs has Real Madrid ahead of Barcelona and Manchester United, with Bayern Munich and Arsenal completing the five.
The widely reported Deloitte Money League Table, which looks at the turnover of these European giants, has Manchester United ahead of the two Spanish sides. Bayern Munich once again makes the top five alongside relative newcomers to the big-money game, Manchester City.
However, three of the final four in this season’s Champions League – Atlético Madrid, Juventus, and Monaco – don’t make it into these financial top fives, so it is hard to definitively state the biggest clubs on money alone. Other star-laden sides such as Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea also don’t make the cut, so maybe this is not the way to go.
When you look further down the money league table, the likes of West Ham United and Newcastle United from the English Premier League make it into the top 20 list, but with no disrespect to those two grand old clubs, they are not who most fans around the world would consider the best in England, let alone Europe.
It is clear that monumental television rights and huge shirt and commercial sponsorship deals can alter what is thought of as a big club – and the money involved can definitely cause some of these sides to become more successful. However, to pick the five best clubs in Europe, it is necessary for fans to take a number of factors into consideration. Supporters can watch the big matches throughout the season, read all about the latest transfers, and even use the best football bet sites UK has to offer to put their money where their mouth is. But who are the top five?
Top of the Forbes list and aiming to be the first club to win back-to-back Champions League titles, Los Blancos can surely argue their case as one of the top five biggest clubs in Europe – if not the top club. Cristiano Ronaldo is just the latest galactico to wear the famous white shirt, and with a massive global reach, the Spanish giants can look forward to many more years of success.
Perhaps it is only Barcelona fans who would argue that Real Madrid are not the biggest club in the world. It is true that the Madrid side have won 11 European Cups and Champions League titles to Barça’s five and have also won more domestic championships. However, the Catalans can point to their global support and the world’s love of their style of play to rightly be named in the top five. Neymar, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi are only the latest in a long line of incredibly talented footballers that have pulled on the famous Barcelona shirt.
The German giants have consistently been successful in Europe as well as in their own country throughout the modern era, and though they have historically not had quite as much money as some of their rivals, they definitely warrant a place in anyone’s top five. The stars of La Liga and the English Premier League may make the covers of the majority of football magazines, but Bayern’s stars have won title after title and graced some of the biggest matches in European football.
For a while in the 1990s and 2000s, Manchester United epitomized everything about the financial and football success of the English game. With stars such as David Beckham leading the way, they soon became the biggest club in the world with supporters on every continent. Though the Forbes and Deloitte lists show that United are still up there when it comes to turnover, their results on the pitch have not been in quite the same league over the past few seasons. However, while they can still attract big names such as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Paul Pogba, they must still be considered top five.
Though the Italian champions do not make it into either of the financial league top fives, their history, fan base, and consistent success must make them contenders. This season has seen them win their 32nd official league championship, and though they have only two European Cup/Champions League titles, they will be contesting this year’s final in Cardiff. Italian defenders have long had a fearsome reputation, and in Giorgio Chiellini, Juve have one of the very best in Europe – if not the world.
Most of these clubs get to prove who is the best on the pitch every season in the Champions League (as well as in their own domestic match-ups), and fans from all over the globe can watch some of the very best players go head to head during the season. Whoever wins the Champions League at the start of June will have the current bragging rights, but the arguments over who are the top five football clubs in Europe will just carry on regardless.