Soccer Players Salaries in MLS, Premier League, La Liga and others – The Soccer Column #8

The recent report published by Sporting Intelligence presents a unique insight into the business side of sports (including soccer) world. Global Sports Salary Survey 2018 is worth to read. It consists of 113 pages full of interesting information and I recommend it to anyone interested in sports business.

For those who do not have so much time, I picked a few features which uncover a little bit of soccer world but believe me, it is worth reading in full length.

MLS Players Salaries

Major League Soccer (MLS) is unique in many ways. It uses play-off to decide the overall winner. Play-off is characteristics for almost all US-based sports leagues. However, you will hardly find any playoff at all in European national soccer leagues. They use it in Belgium and Netherlands and some Central European leagues to decide who will qualify for UEFA European competition, but that is an omissible role.

The second good thing about MLS is the way it publishes the salaries of players. MLS Player Association (MLSPA) gives you a detailed look about base salaries in its salary guide. It has to be highlighted that published salaries are just base salaries players got from MLS, so any additional bonuses, incentives or other payments from clubs are not included nor in the report of MLSPA neither in Global Sports Salary Survey 2018.

MLS is 16th in the ranking of soccer leagues according to yearly average salary paid to soccer players. The yearly average salary in MLS is $375 257 according to Global Sports Salary Survey. [I just remind again, it is the base salary without bonuses.]

The median yearly salary is just $154 619 and total salaries paid to players are $255 925 286.

Check the 10 best-paid players in MLS

At the date when data were crunched (the end of August 2018), there were 50 players earning $1 000 000 and more in MLS. Just 4 of these 50 players were defenders. The top 30 paid players consist of midfielders, forwards and one goalkeeper (Tim Howard of Colorado Rapids with yearly salary $2 475 000). The difference how the league, clubs and also fans perceive the importance of different positions is clear.

Here is another fact which supports the general opinion that offensive play with a lot of goals will attract more spectators. The yearly average salary of goalkeepers in MLS is $158 000, defenders average yearly salary is $249 000. In contrary, midfielders yearly average salary is $449 000 and forwards got $636 000.

MLS Best Paying Clubs

ClubAverage annual player salary
Toronto FC$915 835
LA Galaxy$648 408
Chicago Fire$554 697

10 World Best Paying Soccer Leagues

It could not be an accidence, that when we look at the leagues with the highest average annual salaries of players and compare it with our World Best Soccer Leagues article, we found a 100 percent match.

Out of 68 World Soccer Leagues here is 5 leagues with the highest average annual player salaries:

LeagueCountryAverage annual player salary
Premier LeaguesEngland$3 935 197
La LigaSpain$2 896 151
Seria AItaly$1 999 865
BundesligaGermany$1 837 613
Ligue 1France$1 302 347

10 World Best Paying Soccer Clubs

ClubLeagueCountryAverage annual player salary
BarcelonaLa LigaSpain$13 755 714
Real MadridLa LigaSpain$10 644 272
JuventusSeria AItaly$8 850 879
Manchester UnitedPremier LeagueEngland$8 598 297
Bayern MunichBundesligaGermany$8 358 534
Atletico MadridLa LigaSpain$8 098 836
PSGLigue 1France$8 034 064
Manchester CityPremier LeagueEngland$7 885 589
ChelseaPremier LeagueEngland$6 605 321
LiverpoolPremier LeagueEngland$6 398 687

Interesting Facts from 5 Best Paying Soccer Leagues

Premier League – England

The best paying soccer town in England is definitely Manchester with United and City, two best-paying clubs in Premier League.

Premier League clubs transfer costs are 2.5 times higher on average than transfer costs of other clubs from other 4 Best Soccer Leagues.

La Liga – Spain

Barcelona and Real Madrid are the only soccer clubs with average annual salary for player higher than $10 000 000. Atletico Madrid holds the third position in Spain with an average annual salary of $8 089 836. The gap between the third Atletico and fourth Valencia is enormous. Valencia average annual salary bill is just $3 764 524.

Seria A – Italy

The money can explain the dominance of Juventus in the past 8 years in Italian football. Milan clubs who are holding second and third position in average annual salary rankings have average annual salaries approximately $4 000 000 lower than Juventus has.

Bundesliga – Italy

The same what is written about Italy can be written about Germany too. Bayern Munich average annual player salary is $8 358 534, Borussia Dortmund average annual salary is $4 219 466.

Ligue 1 – France

For the third time the same story. PSG is paying average annual salary $8 034 064 and Marseille which is second in the France ranking is paying $2 807 786. The difference is even bigger than in the two above mentioned countries.

Money talks? Not every time.

The differences between the salaries tell us a lot about the quality of football clubs and dominance in respective leagues. However, the good thing about the football is that money does not decide every time. There are plenty of other factors with an impact on the results on the pitch. Coach, tactics, weather, injuries and many others. Take for example Leicester in 2015/2016 season when they claimed Premier League title or Atletico Madrid in 2013/2014 when they prevailed over Barcelona and Real Madrid. And that is it what I like about any sports. You do not know the result before the actual game, no matter the salaries players take home.

Sources used:

Global Sports Salary Survey 2018 published by Sporting Intelligence

Salary Guide published by Major Leauge Soccer Players Association

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