The London club's annual accounts have been lodged at Companies House and reveal that Chelsea's wage bill for the 2013/14 season was Â£190.5million, up eight per cent from Â£176m.
United are currently the biggest payers in English football, shelling out a total Â£214.8m on salaries while City's wage bill dropped last season to Â£205m.
Arsenal are next in the pay league with a total wage bill of Â£166.4m while the scale of Southampton's success on the pitch is illustrated by the fact that their wage bill was a fraction of their rivals - the latest figures available for 2012/13 show the Saints, currently third in the Premier League, paid out just Â£47.1m in salaries.
Chelsea's accounts confirm the club's announcement in November that they made a Â£18.4m profit last season - but shows this was helped by a Â£65m profit in player trading thanks to the sales of Juan Mata to United, David Luiz to Paris St Germain and Kevin de Bruyne to Wolfsburg.
It allowed the club to overturn a Â£49.4m loss on the season before and should make them assured to comply with UEFA's financial fair play rules.
Chelsea's accounts show broadcasting income increased by Â£34m to Â£139m, due to the new Premier League television deal plus the benefits of being Champions League semi-finalists, while commercial income also showed a big rise, up Â£29m to Â£108m
Turnover overall was up Â£64m to Â£319.8m.
The accounts say five new players brought in by Jose Mourinho since June 30 2014 - including Diego Costa and Filipe Luis - cost Â£62m with Â£19.6m coming in for players who were sold.
Source : PA