10 March, 2008

C.R.E.A.M (dollar dollar bill y’all)

Thanks to our good friends The Offside for the heads up on this one, as just recently a Portuguese finance website bizarrely was able to publish the following salary information for the 50 Best Paid Footballers in the world. Now this is based purely on actual playing salary so the ridiculous endorsement cash that David Beckham sees for holding everything from slippers to date rape kits (or rather anti-date rape kits?) on American TV doesn’t come into the equation here.

So I guess the top 2 aren’t a great shock really. For the best part of 5 years now the pair have dominated the European game, winning the Champions League for their respective clubs and drawing extravagant fanaticism throughout the world. A comment on an affiliate forum suggested that Kaka’s annual salary was actually more than the GDP of the whole of New York City, but since I don’t really know what that means, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. As for the rest, well see for yourself…

1. Ricardo Kaka (AC Milan) €9 million
2. Ronaldinho Gaucho (FC Barcelona) €8.52 million

3. Frank Lampard (Chelsea FC) €8.16 million
4. John Terry (Chelsea FC) €8.16 million
5. Fernando Torres (Liverpool FC) €7.92 million
6. Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea FC) €7.8 million
7. Michael Ballack (Chelsea FC) €7.8 million
8. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester Utd) €7.68 million
9. Thierry Henry (FC Barcelona) €7.68 million
10. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC) €7.68 million
11. Didier Drogba (Chelsea FC) €7.38 million
12. Wayne Rooney (Manchester Utd) €7.32 million
13. Iker Casillas (CF Real Madrid) €7.2 million
14. Michael Owen (Newcastle Utd) €6.72 million
15. Sol Campbell (Portsmouth) €6.6 million
16. Raul Gonzalez (CF Real Madrid) €6.42 million
17. Ruud Van Nistelrooy (CF Real Madrid) €6.42 million
Rio Ferdinand (Manchester Utd) €6.06 million
19. Darren Bent (Tottenham Hotspur) €5.94 million

20. Carlos Tevez (Manchester Utd) €5.88 million
21. Fabio Cannavaro (CF Real Madrid) €5.88 million
22. Luca Toni (Bayern Munich) €5.52 million
23. Robinho (CF Real Madrid) €5.52 million
24. Francesco Totti (AS Roma) €5.46 million
25. Arjen Robben (CF Real Madrid) €5.34 million
Ryan Giggs (Manchester Utd) €5.22 million
27. Michael Essien (Chelsea FC) €5.04 million
28. Adriano Lima (Internazionale) €5.004 million
29. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Internazionale) €5.004 million
Patrick Vieira (Internazionale) €5.004 million
31. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus FC) €5.004 million
32. Samuel Eto’o (FC Barcelona) €5.004 million
33. Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona) €5.004 million
34. Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid) €5.004 million
35. Oliver Kahn (Bayern Munich) €4.944 million
36. Edwin Van der Sar (Manchester Utd) €4.86 million
Fernando Morientes (Valência) €4.86 million
38. Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus FC) €4.8 million
39. Harry Kewell (Liverpool FC) €4.8 million

40. Djibril Cisse (O.Marseille) €4.8 million
41. Joe Cole (Chelsea FC) €4.68 million
42. Pedro Pauleta (Paris SG) €4.608 million
43. Juninho Pernanbucano (O.Lyon) €4.56 million
44. David Beckham (LA Galaxy) €4.5 million
45. David Trezeguet (Juventus FC) €4.5 million
46. Sidney Govou (O.Lyon) €4.5 million
47. Deco (FC Barcelona) €4.5 million
48. Gianluca Zambrotta (FC Barcelona) €4.5 million
49. Petr Cech (Chelsea FC) €4.32 million
50. Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria) €4.2 million

Observations then. A staggering 26 of the 50 listed play for just four clubs – Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United – with Chelsea perhaps unsurprisingly being the most represented with 8 players in this bracket; some worth it (Terry, Ballack, Drogba, Essien, Cech) and some blatently not (Lampard, Shevchenko, Cole). Most of the usual suspects are catered for in a pretty decent hierarchical order actually, so as you’d expect, the likes of Ronaldo, Torres, Rooney, Henry and Raul are all up there with the big boys too.

What’s more interesting are those missing however. There are no Dutch or Portuguese based players at all, and aside from Bayern Munich, no other German sides are represented either. The likes of Diego, van der Vaart, Pudowski and Riberry will therefore probably be clamoring for a new agent and deal soon then having seen these stats. What links these three countries however is the unique, and also admirable, tendency to promote performance-based pay, with Bundesliga clubs especially fond of drawing up contracts with low base salaries, but with astronomical playing bonuses based on impact and all-round performance. One wonders how this might effect certain huge egos in the Premier League, who seem perfectly content to play to their full potential long enough to earn a massive payday, and then just relax, doing literally nothing to the end of their contracts. Nikolas Anelka springs to mind. Finally, a quick hats off to Arsene Wenger as not a single Arsenal player appears on this list, proving once and for all that it’s quality not quantity that matters at the very top level. Without nowhere near the outgoing spending of their English (or European for that matter) rivals, they have achieved just as much and are able to play without doubt better football than anyone in the country apart from Manchester United.

On a smaller scale, it’s a little strange to find a certain Argentinian chap called Lionel Messi conspicuously absent, especially given the outrageous buy-out clause Barcelona have in his contract. As perhaps the two most ridiculous inclusions, Harry Kewell and Darren Bent must be absolutely pissing themselves this week, as they have literally done nothing all year and still banked well over £3 million each. Michael Owen and Sol Campbell too seem unusually high as well, proof that the football money men clearly have rose-tinted memories. Based on salary then, all of these guys are worth more than Messi, so STT would like to advise Spurs especially to contact Barcelona with a swap-deal on the table and see what kind of response they get.

To give these totals a little perspective however, our American correspondent has chimed in with a few comparative figures of the best paid basketballer, baseballer and American footballer. Prepare to feel somewhat sick. Currently NBA all-time great Kevin Garnett, now of the Boston Celtics, is on a cool €16.3 million; Yankee record breaking hitter Alex Roridguez is the highest paid MLB player on a modest €17.8 million; and top of the tree is NFL defensive-line man mountain Dwight Freeney, of the Indianapolis Colts, who last year made a mind-boggling €19.9 million. To better these salaries you have to look at the individual sports, so we won’t really count them here. For the record though, Tiger Woods is estimated to rake in almost €70 million a year (including endorsements though), while the top Formula 1 drivers similarly can bag up €50 million a year through salary and team sponsorship.

Moral of the story here then is if you ever make it as a professional footballer, try to get Kewell or Bent’s agent, they must be real bad-asses to convince Liverpool and Tottenham their clients are worth that kind of cheese. I heard they can regularly be found either selling ice to Eskimos, water to whales, or semen to Britney Spears.