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The 20 Highest-Paid Footballers in the World

Posted in The Sport Review

All details correct as of May 2017.

The face of football has changed rapidly in the last decade and the root cause of this transformation is money. Big wads of it. From the television deals which inflate clubs pockets to mega-rich philanthropists who buy teams when they seek a new challenge in the world of business – the sport is swimming in currency.

Now, the gap between the elite teams and the rest is a yawning chasm, so the chase for top-flight football becomes a furious frenzy. The promised land awaits, and the cash may have stolen the heart from the game, but it can also revitalise those cash-strapped outfits. The ultimate double-edged sword.
The torrents of money rolls downwards, and it pools in the pockets of the players who are lured by the lucre. Wages for superstar players are reaching astronomical levels as managers go to the transfer market with a blank chequebook.

Players now command a weekly wage that most can only dream of. To illustrate this, here are the twenty highest paid footballers in the world in 2017:

20. Bastian Schweinsteiger. Now at Chicago Fire, formerly of Manchester United.

Salary = £200k per week. (Schweinsteiger now at Chicago Fire.)

The German World Cup winner may be languishing on Manchester United’s bench, but he is trousering a corking wage to do nothing. His move from Bayern Munich was meant to show Europe how United was still a force even though Sir Alex Ferguson may have gone, but injuries and a lack of faith from Jose Mourinho has seen this legendary figure of the game fall from prominence.

19. David De Gea. Manchester United

Salary = £200k pw

Manchester United may not be the force of old in terms of trophy-laden seasons – but they are still a powerhouse in terms of income. The £200,000 paid to goalkeeper De Gea is a drop in the ocean and is viewed as a sound investment after the Spaniard was their best player in the post-Fergie years. Will the money be enough to stave off interest from La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona? 

18. David Silva. Manchester City

Salary = £210k pw

Quick-footed Silva was one of the influx of players Manchester City bought to flex their new found wealth when Sheikh Mansour purchased the club. He has since won two titles for the blue half of Manchester, and City fans would say that this large amount of money has been well spent. 

17. Ezequiel Lavezzi. Hebei China Fortune

Salary = £220k pw

The Argentine represents the first entry from the new force of football in China – but isn’t the last. Lavezzi joined from fellow moneybags outfit PSG, and he is one of the golden generation from his homeland in South America which includes Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuian and Lionel Messi. The versatile forward paved the way for more players to fly over and help China put their football league on the map.

16. Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Manchester United

Salary = £220k pw

Another entry for Manchester United, and another for a former PSG man. The player who is known simply as Zlatan in some circles has seen and done it all in Europe. Spain, Italy, Netherlands and France, before coming to Old Trafford to link up with Jose Mourinho again, after doing so well in their time together at Inter Milan. The Swede has banged in the goals wherever he has gone – and even at 35 years old, this shows no sign of stopping. 

15. Asamoah Gyan. Shanghai SIPG

Salary = £227k pw

From Sunderland to China, via the UAE. Gyan lit up the North East in his short spell for the Mackems, but the call came from Al Ain and the Ghana striker showed where his allegiances lie. He has since gone to China and continued to rake in the dough, and is now on loan from Shanghai back to the UAE with Al Ahli. 

14. Luis Suarez. Barcelona.

Salary = £230k pw

The buck-toothed Suarez was idolised at Liverpool, coming close to single-handedly inspiring them to a first title in over two decades. He had offers elsewhere, but he was adamant that he must go to Barcelona. It has been the dream move for the Uruguayan, and the mistakes of the past have melted away in the face of a hatful of goals and a deadly partnership with Lionel Messi and Neymar which has seen them lift all manner of silverware. A shrewd buy even in the face of such high demands.

13. Sergio Aguero. Manchester City.

Salary = £230k pw

The lethal Aguero has been the leading light in the Premiership when it comes to goals, and he has shown remarkable loyalty to City since joining. The Argentine has been the model of consistency and his performances have given a helping hand to City in their quest for domestic and European dominance. He may be currently on the bench watching upstart Gabriel Jesus take his spot – but there will be no doubt he will do the busniess when he pulls the shirt on again.

12. Yaya Toure. Manchester City.

Salary = £230k pw

If Aguero was the blade of the Manchester City sword when winning their trophies in the last 5-6 years, then Toure was the hand which propelled it. The Ivorian has eviscerated midfields since joining in 2010. When on the ball, he has proved nigh-on impossible to stop, and despite being in his twilight years in his career, he has been recalled to Pep Guardiola’s service recently. £230,000 can get him plenty of birthday cake….

11.  Robin Van Persie. Fenerbahce.

Salary = £240k pw

The Dutchman was patiently modelled by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, and he came good in spectacular fashion. He then chose to join rivals Manchester United, where he won them the title thanks to his bagful of goals. It petered out at Old Trafford, but the Dutchman is still doing what he does best in Turkey for Fenerbahce. For a 33yr old, he is doing well to earn this princely sum.

10. Wayne Rooney. Manchester United.

Salary = £260k pw

Even though Rooney had been terrorising defences and winning trophies from the moment he joined United from Everton – when the England and United record goalscorer signed his latest deal, it caused consternation across the UK. It was the first time a player had commanded such a number, and he was in his thirties at the time! He must have a fantastic agent. Injuries have hampered him in recent years as well as poor form, but Rooney still does the business when called upon. 

9. Neymar Jr. Barcelona.

Salary = £275k pw

The great hope of Brazilian football and the man with more tricks than a magician’s pocket, Neymar’s initial transfer may have been investigated, but he hasn’t let that hamper him. The second of the famed triumvirate which is firing the Catalan club to goals and more goals – Neymar is proving that sometimes, you get exactly what you pay for.

8. Graziano Pelle. Shandong Luneng Taishan FC

Salary = £290k pw

This is the third entry from a newly empowered Chinese club, but the player himself must be laughing all the way to bank. Pelle was enjoying moderate success at Southampton – 23 goals in 68 appearances – before the Far East called and dropped a ludicrous number in his lap. Can you blame the Italian for upping sticks? He is now getting paid more than Neymar and Wayne Suarez! And you thought Rooney’s agent was good at his job….

7. Paul Pogba. Manchester United.

Salary = £290k pw

The extravagantly-coiffured Pogba gets the accolade for highest earner in the Premier League, as his weekly earnings grant him the 7th spot. He is also the world’s most expensive player, after joining the Mourinho revolution at Old Trafford in 2016. He may sometimes be in the headlines for his dancing and hairstyles rather than his footballing exploits, but his talent is undeniable. The Frenchman is still young and will only get better. 

6. Hulk. Shanghai SIPG

Salary = £320k pw

Hulk has been somewhat of a journeyman in his career. A maverick for hire, the Brazilian will take his boots and play anywhere that will pay him adequately for his services. Japan, Portugal, Russia and now China have recruited the player who has a reputation for goals and an amazing exocet of a shot, but also that of a mercenary. Hulk is the first on the list to break the mystical and lucrative £300k pw barrier. He had best score a shedload of goals for that kind of money.

5. Lionel Messi. Barcelona.

Salary = £336k pw

There hasn’t been much that hasn’t been said about Messi. The one thing that really points out how good he is, is his goals. 328 in just 365 games. Just like Maradona and Pele, arguments are still rife as to who is better – is it Messi or is it his lifelong rival Cristiano Ronaldo? It is difficult to separate the two, but we should just enjoy them both while they are here. His wage is one of the few that most would say is great value. Messi is quite simply unstoppable. 

4. Gareth Bale. Real Madrid.

Salary = £350k pw

From humble beginnings has Gareth Bale hailed from. There was a time when in his infancy with Tottenham when he could not buy a win when in the team. Now, he is a genuine world-class player and has won the Champions League twice. The Welshman has also seen his country revived through his creative talents – reaching the Semi-Finals of Euro2016. There appears to be nothing he cannot do. 

3. Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid.

Salary = £365k pw

The never-ending duel for supremacy between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may be no nearer an answer, but the Real frontman has won the war of wonga between the two. The Portuguese sensation has done so much for his club, and his 273 goals in just 251 games is truly remarkable. He has also done something else that Lionel Messi has been so far unable to do – and lift a major honour with his country, after winning Euro2016 for Portugal. He may clear a hefty amount of money each week, but it would be hard to find anyone who could say he hasn’t done his best to reimburse his club. Champions Leagues and La Liga’s have been lifted, and so has Ronaldo’s soaring reputation as one of the finest in the game.

2. Oscar. Shanghai SIPG

Salary = £400k pw

Oscar is a fantastic playmaker who had been flitting in and out of the Chelsea side when China approached his agent. So the offer that was put on the table was more than enough to lead him away from the Chelsea bench. The playmaker could well retire from football after a few years netting this money each week, and at 25 years old as of now – that means he could be sunning himself back home in Brazil two years before he hits his thirties. Oscar’s talent is there for all to see, but with still so much to prove, was this move all about the money over footballing ideals?

1. Carlos Tevez. Shanghai Shenhua

Salary = £615k pw.

Who could have seen this coming for Tevez when he signed for West Ham in 2006? From there, he played for both Manchester clubs – winning titles at both – before joining Juventus in 2013. He then moved back home to his boyhood club Boca Juniors in 2015, and this move was presumably his last before retirement. It appears that any man has his price however, and at 33, the Argentine joined Shanghai Shenhua for a monstrous £615k per WEEK. That should be enough to set up a college fund for the kiddies and maybe a nice holiday home somewhere, right? His wage dwarfs every player on this list, and if it is a sign of things to come – then the big leagues in Spain, Germany and England will be very worried about keeping their top talent. 

Alexis and Ozil – What Happens Next?

Published in Arsenal Mania. 

In any walk of life, retaining your prized assets ranks pretty high in terms of importance. Those things that are treasured above all else and clasped to our chests tightly in order to stave off leering suitors.

They are ours, they are our precious……

Apologies for the lame ‘Lord of the Rings’ reference, but the image of Smeagol and his ugly visage contorted with vicious desire does lend itself handily to this subject matter.  The more we want something, the more things get very ugly.

We may have plenty of treasures and things of value in our possession, but there are always a select few that take pride of place. This can be down to monetary value or even just sentimental value, but these choice items lord it above all else.

The players in our football team have all performed numerous times and in crunch fixtures. Some have gone above and beyond the normal levels and are synonymous with certain golden-hued moments in our memory. The majority all have our respect (at varying times anyway) but there are some men that stand on a different plain.

Step forward Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

These two marked the watershed moment, transitioning from ugly duckling football club with a cash deficiency, into powerhouse club who sign established world class superstars. Money was no object, we just made it rain.

Mesut Ozil is still our record purchase. The fact that REAL MADRID and CRISTIANO RONALDO lamented his departure only made the fact we had him at Arsenal oh so sweeter. His record amount of assists last season, his touch like an Estate Agent’s promise. Ozil is refined like the escorts who don’t need to place cards in a phone box.

Alexis Sanchez is pure fire. Goals, explosive trickery, unadulterated danger. The Chilean is victory embodied in a tanned, diminutive South American. He is also directly responsible for nearly half of all the goals we have scored this season, either via scoring it himself or setting it up. His dismay when situations on the pitch go awry is tantamount to a toddler tantrum, but dependant on your standpoint, it is also evidence we actually have a winner in our team.

Now, we stand on the precipice of failure. Not only do our perennial shadow-dwelling neighbours tottenham look to have built a team that will finally break the hold we have had over them for over two decades – we also appear to have slipped sufficiently that our normally reserved place at the top table in Europe is in danger of being taken.

Of course, many snort derisively when a place in the Top4 is mentioned. We may have had this on lockdown for a while, but it should not be made a target. This is completely correct, but it is at least worthy of our radar. It needs to be our basic requirement from every season. Such is the importance the top players place on the Champions League, if we abstain involuntarily from the competition, our chances of continuing to recruit the cream of the crop will be hampered significantly.

As well as keeping hold of what we have.

We are fully aware of the ticking down of Alexis’s and Mesut’s contracts. Next season will be the last year which they are contractually obliged to play for us, but this summer is when both will be looking at potential new clubs and weighing up their options.

Alexis looks increasingly likely to depart. He will have no shortage of takers as well, and tying him up to another contract looks like an impossible task.

Mesut could well stay or go. In truth, we have no idea what will happen as we are not lucky enough to be able to peer behind the veil, but there is a large chance we could be without both when we line up for the 2017/18 season.

We would increase our odds if we could promise them Champions League football, but even if we miraculously won that golden ticket for another year, would our top talent agree to stay?

If both decide to opt for pastures new, then we would be bereft of some incredible talent. Skills that would be at home in the best sides in the world. We would of course be stronger with them in our side.

We will still carry on though. We will still have a football club that we will still adore.

We have been a selling club before. The difference between this and now is that we needed to sell our shiniest baubles to stay afloat. Now we are selling merely because the players in question want to leave. We do not need to sell, but what is worse;

Needing to sell or being unable to keep top players?

Ozil and Alexis are not bigger than the club. We have had players who produce far more than they do on their best day, and we will again.

What we need are players willing to work hard for the club. We want players who want to be at the club.

If they want to leave – especially when we need them the most – then we shouldn’t shed a tear over them. It just means they were never true Gunners, they were mere mercenaries.   

Former Gunner Breaks Agent Laws

If you utter the name ‘Paolo Vernazza’ to the majority of Gooners, then the response is usually a swift shrug or a blank stare. The former Gunner made a smattering of appearances in the late ’90’s for the club, before moving on to Watford, Rotherham, Dagenham and Woking.

His big break at Arsenal was in the Double winning season of 1997/98, when he made a league start, but in total, there was only eleven appearances accrued in a Gunners shirt. 

His career status was that of journeyman. He wasn’t aided by regular injuries, but Vernazza was consigned to the lowe leagues for a large percentage of his career. 

So, what does a player do when they have not accrued the megabucks of their more illustrious playing brethren? They cannot fall back on their earnings, so they must forge a career elsewhere, usually using their ties in the game to good effect.

Vernazza did just that. Becoming a registered football intermediary with the FA, he and other ex-pro Danny Webber went on to play integral parts in building up footballing agency business ‘Platinum One.’ 

As former pro’s, they would be perfectly placed to negate any obstacles and hazards that may befall the players under their wing. They had information from behind enemy lines that would stand them in good stead when it came to crucial negotiations. It makes perfect sense for players to turn to this career when they hang up their boots. They could make this somewhat shady business a lot clearer with their combined acumen gathered during their own career as a professional football player.

The company values itself on being managed to the highest ethical standards – so what has happened just recently will not be helpful to the company’s cause.

Vernazza, Webber and two others were suspended or banned by the FA for breaking rules in regard to signing contracts with children. 

Vernazza was banned for seven months, after he was found guilty of trying to sign a contract with a minor. This was despite the former Gunner not being cleared to work with children. What made his sentence heavier was because the contract had also not been signed by parents or a guardian. 

Fellow Platinum One Agent Danny Webber – of Manchester United, Sheffield United and Watford in his playing days – was suspended for 84 days after approaching a player younger than 16 years of age. 

Young players are impressionable. They devote themselves to the game so they can enjoy the lifestyle they see on TV. Then an agent turns up to their game and it’s a former professional who played in the top flight. These kids need an appropriate adult present in any discussions about their future, to guide them away from hasty decisions.

There are already so many pitfalls that can inflict misery and a change of career on these starry-eyed starlets. With the constant shadow of injury, a slew of changing coaches who have different views, and loan moves deciding which direction your life will head, the last thing they need is to worry if their contracts are being handled appropriately. They need to know they are being handled in the correct way. These agents are meant to have the best interests of their client above all else.

This is why Vernazza and Webber deserve everything that was thrown at them. They have the futures of these youths in their hands, and they are charged with ensuring the best options for their client. To do so, they must follow the rules that everyone else must follow. It is a delicate business that must be run with decorum, respect, and above all else, a priority must be given to these kids.

A violation of this code of conduct should warrant a severe punishment. Hopefully this first violation will be a stark warning to Vernazza and Webber, and will direct them toward putting their clients first before their own gain. All within the rules too.