When you switch on a major top level game of football, it can look quite startling. The ease of the touches of top players, mixed with their tactical fluency and physical conditioning, does make top-flight football look like a different spot. Compare it to going to watch your local club, and you can find that the game of football has almost split into two different sports. Regardless of any other change that has taken place about the beautiful game, though, the biggest change is almost certainly to do with money.
The changing divide in football
For example, take a look at this real-time look at the worlds’ top soccer earnings produced by Betting Sites UK. It breaks down the hourly, monthly and weekly wage of the top twenty stars currently at the peak of their powers in the world of football.
As you might expect, the top two are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The two greatest of all-time in the eyes of many, they bring in around $9.1m and $8.85m per month from their present deals, working out to the best part of $12,000 in a single hour. These incredible sums of money, though, are almost set for the top two.
Numbers three and four, for example, are Neymar Jr ($7.37m) and Gareth Bale ($2.86m). Can you see a significant drop-off there?
The top three players in the world are often seen to be Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar. They are easily the highest paid players in the world, though, with nobody else really getting close to the scale in which they are being paid. It’s easy to see why, too: each of these players is taking home anything from $89m to $110m in a single year. Even the richest clubs in the world would struggle to pay more than a single player that kind of fee!
The interesting change, though, is when you look further down the list of the Top 20. Within that list, we see several players who ply their trade in France – all with Paris Saint-Germain. Despite consistently being ranked as the fifth best league in Europe, the French Ligue 1 lacks the same scale and profile as the other leagues above it: that Paris seems to be among the best represented names on this list is a surprise.
More interestingly, though, is the increase of clubs from across the world. For example, Wayne Rooney (now of DC United) and Oscar (now of Shanghai SIPG) both appear on the list. Despite being a Brazilian international, the ex-Chelsea star moved to China for a wage of around $27m per year: it’s easy to see why that would turn heads.
Whereas in the past the ‘best of the rest’ would include clubs like AFC Ajax, SL Benfica, FC Porto and clubs from Eastern Europe, today the concentration of finance and power is either in the top five European leagues, or far-flung football locations like the United States and China.
It’s a changing world – and one that shows no signs of slowing down.