BY ANTHONY NLEBEM.
Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world and it’s estimated to reach more than 3.5 billion fans globally.
With great popularity comes an excellent salary for the players ranging from sign-on fees, weekly wages, annual earnings and more interesting, earnings per minute.
Every transfer window provides teams with the opportunity to look out for the best players in the transfer market to boost their squad, stabilize the financial status of the club and also sell the ones that failed to meet the club’s expectations.
In the last decade, football stars have been cashing in big on the transfer market and here, Business.am. takes a critical look at how much players earn per minute playing the round leather game with strong emphasis on the just concluded 2021/22 football season.
Real Madrid rival Manchester United in terms of paying footballers vast wages and then failing to get the best out of them.
A recent analysis of the financial earnings of the top players by Sportingpedia and made available to Business a.m. shows top players who cashed in more money playing per minute, annual pay, and weekly and monthly packages in the 2021/22 season.
Top on the list of ten players who cashed in more money despite playing lesser time is Gareth Bale with Real Madrid last season.
Bale, 32, joined Spanish Real Madrid from Tottenham for a fee of around €100 million in 2013.
Bale featured in just seven Real Madrid games, starting four of them, in an injury-disrupted 2021/22 season. He won five Champions Leagues and three LaLiga titles at the Bernabeu.
But Gareth Bale was paid a whooping £90,000 for every minute he played for Real Madrid in the 21/22 season. Even more staggering is the fact that the Welshman recorded only 290 minutes of game time across the whole campaign.
Bale earned £528,000 per week, with seven games played in 290 minutes and £94,676 per minute. Bale ensured that he stayed until the expiration of his contract, which cost Real Madrid £27.5 million in total.
He was initially a key member of the team, scoring in their Champions League and Copa del Rey final wins in his first season and forming a formidable front three alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
Bale scored twice in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool, including a spectacular overhead kick, but by that time his injury problems had become more frequent and his relationship with then manager, Zinedine Zidane, had begun to suffer.
In 2019, Bale was on the verge of joining the Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning, but the move broke down in the final stages after his agent Jonathan Barnett said Madrid changed their mind.
Eden Hazard, the Belgian international struggled with injuries following his arrival in the Spanish capital, Real Madrid from Chelsea in 2019.
In total, the 31-year-old missed an estimated 73 games since joining Los Blancos, and he endured a mixed end to the 2021/22 campaign.
Hazard earned £381,000 per week, played 23 games in 903 playing minutes and earned £21,940 per playing minute.
The 2021/22 season is adjourned as Lionel Messi’s worst season in his professional career. The Argentine performed poorly for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). and winning the Ligue 1 was the consolation for Messi in the 2021/22 season.
Messi, 34, struggled to score just 14 goals in 34 competitions overall while playing for PSG.
Just before joining PSG, Messi had scored 30 league goals in 34 appearances and provided 11 assists. He was the highest scorer in LaLiga. At the international level, he guided Argentina to Copa America triumph after 28 years where he scored five goals and was the golden boot winner along with Colombia’s Luis Diaz.
Messi earned £960,000 per week, played 34 games in 2,872 minutes of playing time and pocked £17,381 per playing minute
Concerns were raised when Oscar left Chelsea and moved to China to join Shanghai Port in 2016.
However, it’s been a bumper move for the Brazilian who earned more than three times his salary at Shanghai than he would have done at Chelsea.
Shanghai Port paid Oscar £540,000 per week, had 22 games last season with1,854 playing minutes and £15,124 income per playing minute.
Neymar signed a contract extension with PSG in the summer of 2021.
Neymar got £606,000 per week, played 28 games, 2,328 minutes of playing time and a whooping £13,536 per playing minute.
Neymar Junior signed for PSG for a record 222 million euros from Barcelona in 2017 which made him one of the most expensive footballers in history.
The Brazilian is also one of the top-earning soccer stars across the globe.
It is estimated that Neymar makes around 71 million euros annually, up two million from 2021, thanks to the contract extension he signed in the French capital in May last year.
Philippe Coutinho moved to Aston Villa in January on a six-month loan; the Brazil international has now made his move permanent in a €20m (£17m) deal and agreed on a four-year contract; Steven Gerrard: “It is incredible to work at a club that executes its business so decisively.”
Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona/Aston Villa): £380,000 per week; 35 games played; 1,946 playing minutes; £10,154 per playing minute
Coutinho joined Barca from Liverpool in a £146 million move in January 2018, and went on to score 26 goals in 106 games for the club.
However, he failed to live up to his huge transfer fee and was sent on loan to Bayern Munich for the 2019/20 campaign amid his struggles to get into the Barca side.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the highest-paid player in the history of the English Premier League when he signed a two-year deal with his old club Manchester United in the summer of 2021.
Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford after spending more than a decade in Real Madrid and Juventus.
Ronaldo is the fourth-highest-paid player on the globe even at the age of 37.
Cristiano Ronaldo received £385,000 per week, played 39 games, 3,221 playing minutes £6,215 per playing minute.
Ronaldo’s salary is €31 million a year at Manchester United with a contract that expires in the summer of 2022 and with an option for another year.
Kevin De Bruyne
The Belgian midfielder renewed his contract with Manchester City in the summer of 2021 until 2025.
This luxury will cost the Citizens more than $24 million a year, though the exact figure is unknown.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City): £385,000 per week; 45 games played; 3,338 playing minutes; £5,997 per playing minute
Kylian Mbappe is the highest-paid footballer in the world after signing a lucrative three-year contract in May to stay with PSG until 2025.
The French star had an impressive 2021/ 2022 season where he helped his team win the French title.
Mbappe, a World Cup winner, earned £410,000 per week and had 46 games with 3,912 playing minutes where he pocked £5,449 per playing minute.
David De Gea
David De Gea signed a 6-year contract with Manchester United with an annual salary of £19,500,000.
De Gea earned £375,000 per week; 46 games played – 4,140 playing minutes; £4,710 per playing minute.
The Manchester United’s goalkeeper was once considered the best keeper in the world but has since endured streaky years.
De Gea has one year remaining on his contract. Whether he’ll sign an extension or move on will depend on the opinion of new managed Erik Ten Haag.