Atletico Madrid have been named as Europe's "smartest spending" club by a study compiled by auditing company KPMG.
The study, the results of which were published in the Financial Times, also praised Everton, Tottenham and Southampton.
It compared the wage bills of 69 clubs in Europe's top leagues with their average points haul over the last four years and found that Atletico had performed exceptionally well.
Although they spent €137 million in staff costs last season -- the eighth-biggest spending team in Europe -- they won the 2014 La Liga title and reached two Champions League finals during the period being assessed.
St Etienne, Monaco, Everton, Tottenham, Napoli, Southampton, Real Sociedad and Lazio were also in the KPMG top 10, but the bottom 10 included Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
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"Atletico Madrid is Europe's 'smartest' spending club, according to a key measure of success based on wages to points accrued," the report said.
"Between 2011 and 2015, the Spanish club outperformed the league points total it would statistically be expected to win based on the size of its wage bill and relative to others in the same national league.
"The club, simply put, does far better on the pitch than its rivals relative to the amount spent on players."
It names Everton, Spurs and Southampton among "other clubs that have spent effectively in recent seasons."
Atletico had struggled financially until recent times, running up huge debts including unpaid tax liabilities of €215m, but stricter financial regulations brought in by the Spanish government, UEFA and the Liga authorities, along with success on the pitch and big-money player sales, have changed the situation.
The club's most recent accounts showed a net profit of nearly €4 million despite continuing concerns over the financing of their forthcoming move to a new stadium.