The Football Rich List: The Top-paid footballers in the Premier League 2015-2016
It’s no secret that top-level professional footballers are a well-paid, affluent bunch, thanks to the ever-increasing amount of TV money sloshing around the English Premier League these days.
And yet, as numb as we have become to the lunacy that is the subject of pay in modern football – thanks to the endless will-they-won’t-they dramas in the news about whether or not some player or another is going to sign a hugely lucrative new contract with some club or another – the cold, hard figures still make for astonishing reading.
Let’s start by illustrating the sheer scale of the discrepancy in pay between the average footballer and your average Joe on the street: if you earn somewhere in the region of £26,500 per annum, which is the UK average salary, a top-flight footballer earning a salary equivalent to the Premier League average of £2,230,000 per annum will overtake your yearly pay packet in just 4 days 8 hours. And if this wasn’t enough, here’s a little more food for thought – a good number of the players plying their in trade in the Premier League earn a great deal more than the average. Clearly, the famous quote, ‘all men are created equal but some are more equal than others,’ has legs.
Just in case you’ve ever been curious about how much the Premier League’s highest-paid superstars earn, we’ve compiled a list of the league’s biggest earners by the measure of their anticipated weekly wage.
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United, £300,000 per week
He’s Captain Marvel for both club and country, the national team’s all-time leading goalscorer, and he’s a bit feisty too. Yes, he’s the one, the only Wayne Rooney.
On reflection, no player in the Premier League was going to top this list other than Toxteth’s finest export. His first ever Premier League against the great ‘Invincibles’ Arsenal team of 2002 at the tender age of 16 was quite the statement of intent, and while, arguably, he never quite became the English Pele many thought he might become, nonetheless he is still recognised as one of the world’s best footballers by many of his elite footballing peers.
Although Rooney is now pushing 30 and he is less prolific than he once was, his knack for scoring important goals means that it is seemingly inevitable he will become Manchester United’s highest ever goal scorer over the next few seasons. This, coupled with his all-round importance to the club, has seen United stump up a humongous amount of money to keep his services.
Yaya Toure – Manchester City, £240,000 per week
While last season proved to be a disappointing one by Toure’s usually impeccable standards, the sublime Ivorian midfielder continues to be the kingpin of a supremely talent-rich Manchester City team. And that’s even after a busy summer’s work for the club, which spent over £100million in the transfer market.
After initially making his name at Olympiacos, Yaya Toure’s reputation as a marauding box-to-box midfielder, reminiscent of a prime Viera or Keane, saw him enjoy a distinguished career across Europe with Monaco and then Barcelona.
The fact that he is two-footed, and can combine technical, attacking play with his considerable defensive acumen makes Toure, in the eyes of many, the Premier League’s finest box-to-box midfielder in recent years. With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that Manchester City prizes him so highly.
Sergio Aguero – Manchester City, £215,000 per week
Another of Manchester City’s signature players, Sergio Aguero, comes in at third place on the Premier League top earners list.
Quite simply, the Argentinian marksman doesn’t merely rank amongst the Premier League’s greatest ever strikers – the stats suggest that he is the best player to have graced the league in his position, ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United legends, Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy, even.
Naturally, a striker who is only bettered by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and who counts only fellow sharpshooters, Neymar, Suarez and Ibrahimovic, among his peers isn’t going to come cheap. To keep European rivals, Real Madrid, at bay, Manchester City pay Aguero the princely sum of around £215,000 per week – a vast salary which is expected to keep the player settled and ensure that he continues to rattle in more hat-tricks in City’s light blue shirt for the foreseeable future.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea, £200,000 per week
He’s not had the greatest of starts this season, but Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, the man who is widely viewed as world football’s next global superstar-in-waiting behind current kings, Messi and Ronaldo, is still the club’s leading creative wizard-in-chief.
The young winger, whom Mourinho has painstakingly groomed to be a future all-time great, has consistently been the clubs best performer over the last two seasons. His ability to conjure something a bit special and score important goals, seemingly from nowhere, is well-known, as is his habit of chipping in with his fair share of assists and defence-splitting passes. And the most frightening thing? Hazard is only 24 – in other words, the Premier League’s standout performer of last season is only going to get better.
Obviously this is great for Chelsea, so long as they can keep him away from the Real Madrids and Barcelonas who covet him.
Raheem Sterling – Manchester City, £200,000 per week
Manchester City’s second most recent acquisition has had an eventful year. Sterling’s well-documented improper use of balloons and his very public spat with former club Liverpool, which he left in what can only be described as undignified circumstances, raised eyebrows, but that said, it is undeniable that Raheem Sterling is as talented as he is controversial.
England and Manchester City’s latest attacking sensation has already demonstrated impressive form, in terms of his dribbling and goal-scoring exploits, chances created from open play, and number of assists – only the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva and Alexis Sanchez bettered him last season.
Until City’s purchase of the Belgian attacking midfielder, Kevin de Bruyne, for the considerable sum of £54million, Raheem Sterling was the club’s record signing. Certainly, his £49million transfer makes him the most expensive English player in history – only time will tell if the money spent on a 20-year old with fewer than 100 league appearances to his name represents value for money. But thus far, all evidence indicates that Manchester bought well and that his sizable wages are a worthwhile investment.
Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea, £200,000 per week
While Cesc Fabregas enjoyed a phenomenal first season in Chelsea’s blue shirt last year, his form at the start of the beginning of the 2015/16 season has been as troubled as that of his parent club.
In this instance, it is important to remember the old saying, ‘form is temporary, the class is permanent – the Spanish international and Catalan poster boy, who captained Arsenal as a teenager and enjoyed a reasonably successful stint at his boyhood club, Barcelona, has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best midfielders in the world. Were it not for the fact that all-time great Spanish teammates, Iniesta and Xavi, stood before him earlier in his career, it is likely that he would have more than the 98 caps for his national team that he currently has.
In spite of his present uncharacteristic struggle for form so far in 2015, Fabregas has been the creative heartbeat of Mourinho’s latest Chelsea juggernaut – his passing is incisive, his footballing brain scalpel-sharp, and he not only creates goals but scores his fair share of them too. When his availability became known, Chelsea quickly snaffled him up from Barcelona for £26.3million, and Fabregas found himself back in London with £200,000 per week to play with.
Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City, £200,000 per week
The Belgian international’s eye-watering £54million transfer to Manchester City certainly raised eyebrows, following his less-than-successful stint with Premier League champions, Chelsea, a couple of seasons back. However, the cynicism in the media, while understandable, is a little unfair – in terms of pure footballing talent, as demonstrated by his impressive number of assists and goals for former club, Wolfsburg, over the last 18-months, Kevin de Bruyne is one of Europe’s best young playmakers.
Only time will reveal whether or not the vast transfer fee was money well spent, but it is telling that many experts believe City’s acquisition of the attacking midfielder, who can play left, right, or through the middle, will strengthen a Man City team which already boasts one of the strongest midfielders in the world. His array of passing, along with his rich creative flair, impressive work ethic, and knack of scoring long-range screamers has seen de Bruyne gain global recognition in recent years – impressive stuff, when you take into account that at 24 he is yet to peak.
Judging by the transfer fee paid to his former club, and lucrative contract offered to the player, Manchester City see him as a good long-term bet.
The moral of the story
The topic of superstar footballer’s pay is as fascinating as it is nauseating. For good reason, there is much debate surrounding why these professional athletes earn so much more than essential personnel, like nurses and teachers for example, who continue to struggle with every spiralling living costs.
The truth is this: we live in a world where we are paid in-line with the demand for our services, and this means that in the cash-rich world of professional English football the very best players can demand astronomical salaries from the clubs who compete for their services.
The players in the above list, through a combination of hard work, natural ability, and luck now enjoy jet-set lifestyles and a fortune which should see them through until the end of their days. While the rest of us will likely never enjoy such wealth ourselves, what we can learn from these dedicated pros is that hard work and desire to perfect what you are good at can a long way.
Another thing that this teaches us is that football has gone barking mad – but that’s a topic for another day.
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