While it can be easy to point to transfer spend as the key to success, judging a squad’s quality based on how much it took to put it together, wages are often considered a better indicator of the true potential of a squad.
And with the release of 2018’s football salaries report by Sporting Intelligence, we get confirmation that Liverpool have worked their way back into the Premier League’s top four when it comes to average player wage.
Liverpool’s first team wages have, as of this season, narrowly passed Arsenal, dropping the Gunners to fifth in England, while Liverpool sit around £150k in back of third-place Chelsea—a difference of around £3k per week.
By wages, those are the three squads that should be competing to be in the top four every year—with one being left out—while Tottenham sit more than a million pounds behind that group in sixth place by average wage.
About a million pounds ahead of them all is Manchester City, which will come as a surprise to absolutely no one. What is a surprise is that Manchester United’s players make, on average, more than half a million more than City’s.
It means either that United are vastly overpaying a lot of very average players who are on far more than they’re worth. Or that manager Jose Mourinho is getting very poor performances from what should be the league’s best squad.
Another surprise is that, despite the power and prestige of the English game, Atletico Madrid have an average first team salary higher than every Premier League club bar United. Less surprising are Real Madrid and Barcelona’s wages.
The two Spanish giants top not just the La Liga or European football lists but the global list. They are followed by six NBA teams, then Juventus, and then Manchester United with the tenth highest average wage in all of sport.
FC Barcelona are the best paid team in global sport and the first sports team in history to have average basic annual pay of more than £10m ⚽️— Sports Business Inst (@SBI_Barcelona) November 26, 2018
(Source: Sportingintelligence’s Global Sports Salaries Survey) #sportsbiz pic.twitter.com/2zN9qiIWS3