La Gazzetta dello Sport (Stefano Boldrini) The NBA offers the biggest salaries on the planet, Manchester United are the team with the highest wage bill in football, but Juventus’ players also have cause to smile. The annual Global Sports Salaries Survey (GSSS) focused its attention on 333 teams in 7 sports (football, baseball, basketball, American football, cricket, ice hockey and Australian Rules football) in 17 leagues across the world, totalling 10,000 athletes. The NBA is the undisputed number 1 with 6 names in the top 10 – Cleveland Cavs are in first place, with an average annual salary of €7.58m – then comes football, with Manchester United in 4th (€6.69m), Barcelona in 5th (€6.55m) and Manchester City in 9th (€6.29m).
The collapse in the value of the Sterling following Brexit has resulted in NBA salaries rising to the top, but the Premier League – thanks also to the lucrative new TV deal bringing in €3.48bn a year from 2016-2019 – still has considerable financial muscle with 5 teams in the top 10 – the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, with the top 10 completed by Barcelona and Real Madrid from La Liga, and one team each from the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A: PSG, Bayern Munich, and Juventus, who are in 8th place with an average annual salary of €4.6m. It’s a record that reiterates the Turin club’s superiority both on and off the pitch, justifying their ambitions to win the Champions League. The flip side is that with such a high wage bill comes an obligation to win in Europe, otherwise how are such high salaries justified?
Looking further down the list of the top 20 clubs, in 11th place surprisingly are Roma (€3.42m) in front of Tottenham and Atletico Madrid. In 14th place are Inter (€2.86m), which is equally surprising (if for another reason), considering the club’s disastrous season so far. Milan are noticeably absent, a sign of their restructuring over the last few years. The Premier League’s domination is overwhelming: 11 teams in the top 20, including reigning champions Leicester (17th with €2.43m). English football is where players are best paid: an average annual salary of €2.83m, twice that of La Liga (€1.43m). Third is the much-maligned Serie A with €1.28m a year, though the contributions of Juventus, Roma and Inter are fundamental in keeping Serie A ahead of the Bundesliga (€1.2m) and Ligue 1 (€0.84m). In 6th place is the Chinese Super League with €0.68m, more than double that of MLS (€0.28m). In the sporting war between the two superpowers, as the world waits to see the effects of a Trump presidency, China have crushed their rival.
China is also where we find the highest paid Italian player, Graziano Pelle, who earns €16.48m a season. The former Southampton player is 6th overall behind Cristiano Ronaldo (€22.03m), Lionel Messi (€22.03m), Gareth Bale (€21.13m), Hulk (€19.31m) and Paul Pogba (€17.53m). Pelle comes ahead of Lavezzi (€15.67m), Rooney (€15.67m), Neymar (€15.55m) and Ibrahimovic (€15.09m). 3 players in the top 10 play for Manchester United and 2 of them, Pogba and Ibrahimovic, were signed by Mourinho in the summer. It’s a huge amount of money, but the Red Devils are only 6th in the league.