Arsenal’s wage bill has climbed £26million in one season and is now on a par with big-spenders Chelsea, according to figures released today by the club.

The Gunners’ salary costs rose from £166.4million in 2013-14 to £192.2million last season following the arrival of the likes of £130,000-a-week new signing Alexis Sanchez, who joined Mesut Ozil as the top earning player at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal wages are now virtually identical to Chelsea, who they play in Saturday’s mouthwatering showdown at Stamford Bridge.

The Premier League champions’ wage bill is £193million, although that figure is for the 2013-14 season as they have not yet released their 2014-15 financial accounts.

This is behind the two biggest spenders on player salaries, Manchester City (£205million) and Manchester United (£203million). Intriguingly, United’s 2014-15 figures, announced on Thursday, showed that their wages had dropped £11.8million compared to their record high of £215million in 2013-14.

Arsenal’s growing spend on players was revealed in their financial results for the year ending 31 May 2015.

Chief financial officer Stuart Wisely wrote: “The wage bill for the year of £192.2 million was increased primarily as a consequence of the players added to the squad in the year and the contract extensions agreed with existing players.”

Banking it: Ozil is one of Arsenal's top earners

Banking it: Ozil is one of Arsenal’s top earners

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis added: “We have again done a lot of work this year agreeing contract extensions with key players. Chuba Akpom, Mikel Arteta, Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Olivier Giroud, Alex Iwobi, Carl Jenkinson, Jon Toral and Theo Walcott have all signed extensions to their existing contracts. This ensures we will maintain continuity in the squad and puts us in a strong position for the future.”

The club’s wage bill represents 58.8 per cent of their total revenues of £344.5million but Wisely insists that the board are comfortable with this figure.

“In light of the strong correlation which exists between player wage expenditure and onfield success we should be clear that having the resources to grow our wage bill in a rational and responsible manner continues to represent a positive outcome.”