Date: 17th February 2010 at 5:01pm
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A Brazilian website has published a list of the top fifty earners in football. Surprisingly, there aren`t only Chelsea players on this list, in fact we have ‘only` 7 of them.

It`s a Brazilian website, called ‘` which publishes the list of top 50 earners in football. It makes for interesting reading, if only because the real spenders are outed.

Top of the list is, surprise surprise, Real Madrid. They pay Cristiano Ronaldo over ?1 million a month, some ?13 million per year. It doesn`t even mention whether he gets a bonus for every stepover (pointless or not) or whether he has a special fine for red cards. Below him is Kaka, in 5th, on a suave ?10 million per year (by all accounts, even that of the most rabid pro-Madrid papers, that is a waste of money if one judges on the drop of form of the Brazilian), and Karim Benzema (who made an entirely anonymous return to Lyon last night), in 7th place, on ?8,5 million. Raul is in 17th (?6,5 million), which is a hell of a lot of money for warming the bench, and Iker Casillas in 22nd (?6 million), which is understandable when you consider how useless is the defence playing in front of him. Diarra (we assume that`s Mamadou and not Lassana) is at the rear (45th with a paltry ?5 million).

We mention this to put to bed the nonsense that the best players in the world play for Madrid because of their love of the ‘famous` white shirt. Let`s be honest: they play at Madrid because Madrid pay the highest salaries. That`s all the more in terms of take home pay when one considers that most of these players (the non-Spanish ones) are on very favourable tax rates.

Just below Madrid in the big spenders league are their rivals Barça. Numbers 2 and 3 in the list are Zlatan Ibrahimovic (?12 million per year) and Lionel Messi (?10,5 million). Thierry Henry and Xavi are slumming it on ?7,5 million (11th and 12th place), Dani Alves in 15th (?7 million) and erratic sticksman Victor Valdes on ?6 million (23rd), breaker of Chelsea hearts Andres Iniesta and caveman Carles Puyol are in 37th and 38th (both on ?5 million). That`s 8 players in the top 50. And they say that Catalans are stingy!

Chelsea probably have the next number of players in this listing, 7. John Terry successfully negotiated a new contract over the summer, he`s 9th in the list on ?7,5 million (well, he has a number of high-maintenance lady friends), which is the same as what Chelsea are paying Frank Lampard. Michael Ballack is in 16th (?6,5 million), Deco and Drogba are 25th and 26th (?6 million and ?5,5 million, respectively). Ashley Cole is also on ?5,5 million. Below him is Nicolas Anelka, on ?4,8 million.

Rude gatecrasher in this list is Manchester City, who field 6 players. That includes the highest paid player in English football, Emmanuel Adebayor, in 6th, on ?8,5 million. In 8th is Carlos Tevez, ?8 million. Kolo Touré provides defensive value for money in 19th (?6,5 million), Robinho hilariously is on ?6 million in 21st position. Frank Lampard`s understudy, Gareth Barry is in 35th place, ?5,5 million, whilst Wayne Bridge is in 44th (?5 million). We`re sure that there is a joke in that somewhere.

Italian clubs are clearly not spending enough. Samuel Eto`o is in 4th place (?10,5 million), and Ronaldinho in 13th (?7,5 million), otherwise we have to drop to 27th where Gianluigi Buffon is raking in ?5,5 million for Juventus. There is a pair of Roma players (Totti, 28th and Luca Toni, on loan, 29th). Patrick Vieira picks up ?5,5 million for Inter (one wonders how City are paying him) in 36th , Andrea Pirlo for Milan on 40th, Alessandra Del Pierro in 50th, and some bloke called David Beckham is trousering ?5 million in 43rd.

Other notable English club players are the ManYoo quartet of England captain Rio Ferdinand (18th on ?6,5 million), Wayne Rooney (20th on ?6 million), Dimitar Berbatov (46th), and Ryan Giggs (49th). Poor Liverpool FC only provide 2 players to this list: Steven Gerrard (14th on ?7,5 million, I bet he`s regretting not joining Chelsea) and Fernando Torres (34th). Spendthrift Arsenal only have Andrey Arshavin on ?4,8 million in 48th place.

Notably absent are any French clubs, and the only German representative is, not surprisingly, Bayern Munich, who have 4 players in 31st (Arjen Robben!), 32nd (Bastien Schweinsteiger), both on ?5,5 million), followed by Willy Sagnol and Frank Ribery (41st and 42nd, ?5 million). The rest of the list is made up of bits and pieces from Spain: ex-Spurs hitman Frederic Kanouté is at 24th for Sevilla, Chelsea target David Villa is 30th for Valencia (?5,5 million per year is what we`ll have to better), other Chelsea target Sergio Agüero is in 39th (?5 million) at Atletico.

What can we deduce from this list? Firstly, it reflects the respective qualities of the various Leagues: the two best Leagues in the world (and this is not my personal view, it`s that of numerous studies) are the Premier League and the Liga. That`s why these two have more representatives than any other. Is this a cause or effect of the salaries paid to players? That`s a moot point.

However, it is also clear that La Liga is paying more in salaries than the Premier League, substantially more when one takes account of the favourable tax rates in Spain for foreign players. Clearly the attraction of playing in England compensates for slightly lower salaries.

As if we needed confirmation, Real Madrid have a club consisting of big-name players that is built entirely on money. It`s the Panini sticker book approach. Perhaps more surprising, however, is how much Barça pays their players. After all, Barça is a club that usually doesn`t have difficulties attracting players on the basis of their football and their philosophy. It appears that money also helps. As for the rest of the Spanish clubs, they are having difficulty holding on to their best players, and the gulf between the Madrid – Barça duopoly is growing.

There is little to be said about the German representatives: it is well documented that Bayern are substantially bigger than any other German club. The list also confirms the decline of Italian football as an economic force.

As for England, well the big four have their representatives in this list, although Arsenal make good on their economic model with only one name. Liverpool, however, are having difficulty competing. They are a two-player club, and this is confirmed by the 2 players in this list. There is, clearly, now pressure from Manchester City which have the ability to pay Champions League wages ? without offering Champions League football.

ManYoo are not paying their players as much as the competition, which suggests that they attract players on the basis of the glory of the shirt. Good for them in that respect. And Chelsea? Well, we are probably over-playing our players. Nevertheless, Chelsea are far from the ‘worst` offenders, and this reflects the fact that Blues are now one of Europe`s biggest clubs. Nevertheless, Chelsea still have to be able to offer attractive wages to overcome a certain historical ‘deficit`. This list could well change if the reports of a summer spending spree come to fruition.

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