Soccer players salaries have been a topic of much debate in recent years. Some argue that all footballers are grossly overpaid, in truth, that is not true. The top players in the world of soccer like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are well-worth their enormous wages. These players make their clubs back what they earn in shirt sales alone, and provide hours of enthralling entertainment which millions watch around the globe.
Footballers wages are no different to any other profession in the sense that it is purely based on supply and demand. Messi, Ronaldo and co are paid what they are because they are the only people on the planet capable of doing what they do. The question marks regarding over-payment then, lies not upon them, but rather those players who do not produce the goods. There are hundreds of footballers who are markedly average yet sit on huge pay packets, some of whom rarely even feature for the first team.
This then, is a list of players whose wages do not run parallel to their contribution to the team. The clubs who employ these players could all get a better service for a less significant outlay than they are currently. There are players from as far apart as Italy, to China, to the U.S., showing that this isn't just a problem with the Premier League, as is so often made out to be the case. Here are the top 15 overpaid soccer players:
15 Steven Fletcher
Sunderland and Scotland striker Steven Fletcher impressed in the Premier League with both Burnley and Wolves, but when the latter were relegated, he joined Sunderland for $19 million. On top of his hefty transfer fee, Fletcher was handed a $62,000 a week contract, worth almost $13 million, spread over four years. For that money, Sunderland have got 89 games and 19 goals out of the forward, representing terrible value for money. Fletcher caused uproar earlier this year when he was picture alongside his brand new $500,000 Lamborghini Aventador.
When Hulk first broke onto the scene at Porto as a 21-year-old he looked an incredible prospect. Incredibly well-built, he was both technically and physically set to become one of the best players in world football. After 4 years at Porto, scoring 54 goals in 99 games, the Brazilian was expected to join one of Europe's elite. Instead, he headed to Zenit in Russia where his career has somewhat petered out, at least on an international stage. With a weekly wage of $280,000 a week, Hulk is one of the best paid players in the world, yet few would argue that he was actually one of the best players in the world.
13 Philippe Mexes
A few years ago, Mexes' $125,000 a week would have seemed like reasonable value. Having established himself in France, the center back made a real name for himself at Roma, earning a move to AC Milan. However, now aged 33, over the last few years, Mexes has looked a shadow of his former self. Laboriously slow and making comical errors at times, his extortionate contract now looks way out of whack with his performances, which are reflected in the red side of Milan's terrible position in the table.
Xavi is quite possibly the greatest midfielder of his generation. More than anyone else he has epitomized Barcelona's style of play over the last decade or more. At the heart of Barca's midfield, Xavi has dictated more than 750 games for the club, winning all that the football world has to offer, for both club and country. Edged out of the team this year for the first time by summer recruit Ivan Rakitic, Xavi has decided to call time on his time in Spain, and who can blame him after Qatari club Al-Sadd offered him an eye-watering $210,000 a week. When Xavi's Al-Sadd contract comes to an end, he will be 38 and have earned an incredible $33 million for his veteran three years at the club.
Shipped out on-loan to boyhood club Sporting Lisbon last season, Manchester United still found themselves paying a heft chunk of the wingers $168,000 a week wages. Nani has flattered to deceive during his time at Old Trafford, looking a world beater at one minute and invisible another. Some claim that had the Portuguese international applied himself, he could have had a similar career to compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, such is his talent. Now aged 28, it is clear that is not going to happen and Louis van Gaal will be doing his best to find a new home for Nani and get him off the club's wage books this summer.
10 Andy Carroll
Tied with Thiago Silva, Karim Benzema and Radamel Falcao as the 23rd most expensive player in the history of the game, Carroll is often labelled one of the worst signings in history. However, after his loan spell at West Ham he did enough to impress Sam Allardyce who signed the dominant forward. Few are better in the air than the Englishman, but injuries have plagued his time with the Hammers and his $136,000 a week contract looks to be shocking business, especially given that he has only mustered up 27 games and 7 goals in the Premier League over the last two years, over which time he has earned in excess of $14 million.
9 Jake Livermore
One-time England international Jake Livermore spent seven years at Tottenham before joining Hull City, initially on-loan before making the deal permanent. After a solid but not exceptional first season, there were some eyebrows raised when the Tigers forked out $12.5 million for his services. On top of his fee, Livermore was rewarded with a contract worth around $60,000 a week. Livermore had a dreadful season at Hull City, which was compounded with the news that he had failed a drugs test after the Tigers victory away at Crystal Palace. He has been suspended by both Hull City and the FA with no official decision having been made by either party yet.
8 Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres' dramatic $77 million transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea proved to be a gigantic flop, as he failed to replicate his Liverpool form at Stamford Bridge. The Blues persisted with their faltering forward for two-and-a-half years before he was loaned out to AC Milan in the summer of 2014. The Spaniard was equally unimpressive in Italy, scoring just once before being signed and loaned out once more in an unusual turn of events. Now on loan at former club Atletico Madrid, Torres has still struggled to get back to scintillating best, and having lost his turn of pace, it is unlikely he ever will. On significantly less than he was at Chelsea, Torres' salary of $270,000 a week is still incredible given his return of just 3 goals in 19 games in La Liga last season.
7 Adel Taarabt
Adel Taarabt is earning a staggering $100,000 a week for playing with the youth and reserve teams at Queens Park Rangers. The troubled midfielder, who seems to fall out with anyone and everyone, was described as the "worst professional I've ever worked with" and three stone overweight by manager Harry Redknapp last season, although Taarabt denied the comments. The Moroccan loves strop and whinge, and his continued fall-outs come as little surprise. He played just seven games for Q.P.R. last season. Taarabt will probably leave Loftus Road this summer, although the club may have to subsidize his wages, as it is unlikely anyone else will be stupid enough to pay him $5 million a year.
6 Riccardo Montolivo
AC Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo was regarded as one of Italy's most gifted players whilst at Fiorentina, where his creativity and range of passing made him one of the Serie A and Italian national teams star players. He joined Milan on a free transfer in 2012, becoming captain after Massimo Ambrosini's retirement, but has failed to prove himself worthy of leading out the Italian giants. His weekly wage of $155,000 is outrageous given his current contribution, and made all the more ludicrous when one considers that compatriot and the far superior talent Andrea Pirlo earned almost half that figure this past season.
5 Samir Nasri
On his day, Samir Nasri is one of the most tricky customers in football. His combination of a quick feet and a quick mind make him unpredictable and unplayable at times, but we have seen all to little of that in recent times at Manchester City. He had a bright start when he first joined the sky blues from Arsenal in 2011, even winning the title in his first season, playing 45 games and assisting a great many Man City goals. Despite glimpses of brilliance, Nasri goes hiding all to often these days. When one weighs up his contribution in comparison to fellow playmaker David Silva, the distance is immeasurable. Nasri's reward for his poor form? $350,000 a week. It is possible that Nasri had played his last game for Manchester City and after his performances this season, few would be surprised.
4 Jozy Altidore
Jozy Altidore may be one of the golden boys of American soccer, but his performances in the Premier League over three seasons highlight his ineptitude when up against elite opposition. In 68 Premier League games, Altidore scored just two goals, an almost laughable goal scoring return, unless you're a Hull City or Sunderland fan. His record was equally poor in the Spanish and Turkish top flights, although he was prolific in Holland. Now back in the MLS, it is clear where Altidore's level is. Although he may be effective in the MLS, one suspects Toronto could find an equally prolific forward who would be willing to play for less than $30 million, spread over five years, which is what Altidore is set to earn, roughly $115,000 a week.
3 Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao's name was being mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo after the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons in which he scored 70 goals in just two seasons at Atletico Madrid. Expected to move to one of the titans of European football, the Colombian headed instead to the principality of Monaco. An injury plagued season saw Falcao play just 19 times, but his stock was still high enough for a number of clubs to be interested when he became available, and he headed to Old Trafford. With Manchester United Falcao was a huge flop, scoring just 4 goals in 29 games. His weekly wage of $450,000 makes him one of the best paid players in the world and hugely overpaid on recent evidence. He looks likely to join Chelsea this summer.
2 Dario Conca
You could be forgiven for never having heard of Argentine attacking midfielder Dario Conca but if you haven't then you may be surprised to hear that he became the third highest paid player in the world in 2011, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The enormous salary was a result of his move from Fluminense to Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande. Conca soon shied away from China, returning to Fluminense after just two years but moved back to China once more in January of this year, this time joining Shanghai SIPG. Although his wage has dropped significantly since his last stint in China, he is still earning a whopping $250,000. A frightening wage for a player who has never proved himself outside of Brazil and never even made an international appearance.
1 Emmanuel Adebayor
Like many on this list, Togolese forward Emmanuel Adebayor was a tremendous footballer at one time. His ability in the air and on the deck to both create and score goals, made him one of the Premier League's star players with Arsenal in the 2007/08 season. He scored 24 goals that season, finishing as Golden Boot runner-up to Cristiano Ronaldo. A big money move to Manchester City proved a failure, where he scored 15 goals in 34 games, and an equally unsuccessful season on-loan at Real Madrid followed.
Togo's all-time top scorer, with 29 goals, Adebayor joined Tottenham where he had a fine first season, scoring 17 goals. He has faded ever since, scoring only 18 goals in the last three years. Now 31, Adebayor is a long way behind the free-scoring Harry Kane and could well leave Spurs this summer. Despite a full 3 years of producing very little, Adebayor is still earning $170,000 a week. The $26.5 million he has made at Tottenham over the last three years works out at roughly $1.5 million a goal, making him well worth top spot as the most overpaid player in world soccer.