There is much debate over the use of the term 'mercenary' in soccer in recent years. Many believe there are too many players driven only by money as the salaries at the top end of the sport seem to rise every year to astronomical levels. In 2010 former Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto admitted to being a mercenary, but claimed he was the only man brave enough to concede it, stating "I don't understand why, when I say I play for the money, people were shocked. Oh, he's a mercenary. Every player is like that."
There is undoubtedly some truth in what he says, and his honesty is somewhat refreshing. It would be brilliant if all players were passionate about the club they played for and felt attached to said team beyond a written contract, but deep down we all know this is no longer the case. Although, whilst almost all players will seek the best possible contract for themselves, there is an added degree of cynicism tied to the label of a 'mercenary'.
Therefore, to make this list of great mercenaries in the sport, it is not enough merely to have perused a lucrative contract for oneself. These individuals either displayed avarice above and beyond the call of duty, showed a complete lack of ambition, gave false impressions of attachment to the clubs they played for or happily auctioned themselves off to the highest bidder with little or no respect for the team who they were under contract with at the time.
10 Vladimir Weiss
9 Samuel Eto'o
8 Sven-Goran Eriksson
For almost 25 years Sven was a hard-working and intelligent manager whose reputation continued to grow throughout the game. Beginning his managerial venture back in 1977, he enjoyed particular success with Goteborg, Benfica, Roma, Sampdoria and Lazio, before being handed the England National Team managerial position. The job made Sven the best paid manager in the world at the time, and he has chased the megabucks wherever they have called out to him from ever since. In the seven years since leaving the England National Team, Sven has had nine different jobs. The UEFA Super Cup winner wasn't even above joining fourth division Notts County when a $3 million a year deal was on offer.
7 Everton Ribeiro
6 Pierre van Hooijdonk
5 Fabrizio Ravanelli
4 Winston Bogarde
3 Asamoah Gyan
1 Dario Conca
In the top spot is a man you may well have never heard of. Yet Dario Conca became the third best paid player in the world in 2011, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The Argentine playmaker rose to prominence with Fluminese where he was voted the best player in Brazil's Serie A for both 2009 and 2010 and a move to one of Europe's big boys looked likely. Instead, Conca signed for Guangzhou Evergrande, where he was given a contract worth $12.5 million a year. Despite being such a marquee signing for the club, it was not all smooth sailing for Conca, who was often left out of the side and found himself increasingly frustrated. In January 2014 he left China, returning to Brazil and Fluminese. However, the drama did not end there. In January of this year, he returned to China, signed by Shanghai SIPG, where he is likely so have been handed a lucrative deal once more.
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