Everyone knows there is a lot of money in football but overpaying players is a growing trend, especially in the newly formed competitions like the Chinese Super League where quality and prestige is lacking but common sense and deep pockets are not.
Some players are worth every – or almost every – penny they are paid.
The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and even Harry Kane are on mega-bucks but repay their clubs with regular match-winning performances and club marketability.
But this list isn’t about those players. Here (in no particular order) are several players that simply don’t cut the mustard.
Christian Benteke, Crystal Palace – £120,000
Benteke looked a promising striker at Aston Villa, scoring 42 Premier League goals in just 89 matches for the struggling Villains. And to be fair, his first season in south London wasn’t too bad with 15 goals from 36 matches.
Since then though…eesh. Just three goals since the beginning of last season is not what Palace want from their £120,000-a-week striker.
Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United – £391,000
United trumpeted the Chilean’s arrival with much fanfare in January, but now they’ll be wishing they kept the receipt. Sanchez earns almost £400,000 every week with an additional bonus of £75,000 if he starts a match. In return, he’s scored three goals in 19 appearances and looks a shadow of the player who was at Arsenal.
However, Gunners fans shouldtha be laughing too hard…
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Arsenal – £180,000
In return for offloading Sanchez to Old Trafford, Arsenal received the equally underwhelming Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return.
Three goals in 18 matches was not what Gunners fans were hoping for when the Armenian moved to the Emirates. Admittedly he hasn’t been as bad as Sanchez…but still, in a team that is scoring goals for fun at the moment somehow he’s missing out on the action.
Karim Benzema, Real Madrid – £150,000
The former France international has been a great servant for Los Blancos but the 30-year-old has been giving diminishing returns for a couple of seasons now. 24 LaLiga goals in 2015-16 has given away to 11 in 2016-17, then just five last season. With Cristiano Ronaldo departing in the summer, former boss Julen Lopetegui needed Benzema to step up, but just four goals so far this campaign has seen the Frenchman fall short of expectations again.
Alex Pritchard, Huddersfield – £110,000
The Huddersfield midfielder was signed last season to give the Terriers some bite up front, and has one goal from 20 matches. That he hasn’t been able to deliver in a side as toothless as Town hasn’t entirely been his fault, but last season he earned a similar amount to Harry Kane. Let that sink in.
Paul Pogba, Manchester United – £290,000
The Frenchman is by no means the worst offender on this list, and does produce the odd match-winning display and an enviable marketability for club and country, but he just doesn’t do it frequently enough.
And that’s the problem, United want him to produce for them on the pitch as often he does for them off the pitch. (Well, we assume they do at least).
Oscar, Shanghai SIPG – £400,000
The former Chelsea has made a decent fist of life in China and is definitely one of the best players in the league. But it is obvious his move from Chelsea to the Far East before he’d reached his peak was all about money. It’s worked – the Brazilian is reportedly the fourth highest paid player in world football playing in a tin pot league.
Gareth Bale, Real Madrid – £350,000
A brilliant footballer, true, and he is capable of outstanding moments of skill – just think of the Champions League final win over Liverpool in May, or his goal in the Copa del Rey final win over Barcelona in 2014. However, injuries are threatening to derail his impact in Madrid – despite good goal and assist returns when available, he has been fit for just over half of Real’s matches the past three complete seasons.
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Bale’s only played in 30 league games more than once in five seasons for Real; 31 league matches in 2014-15 has given way to 23, 19 and 26 in each season since. Not a great return for one of the highest paid players in the world.
Alex Teixeira, Jiangsu Suning – £150,000
Heavily linked with a move to the Premier League for much of 2016, the creative midfielder looked destined to trade in Skakhtar Donetsk for a Champions League powerhouse. Instead, Teixeira chased the money and went to China. Now 29, the Brazilian is still without an international cap and you can’t shake the feeling his career promised more than it delivered.
Ousmane Dembele, Barcelona – £220,000
The 21-year-old French attacker is one of Barcelona’s highest paid players, earning not much less than Luis Suarez and more than established stars like Pique, Ivan Rakitic, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal.
And what have they got for that huge outlay? Well, not much. While his pace and ability with the ball poses constant threats for opposing defences, his work-rate on defence and his attitude off the pitch have left many at the Nou Camp exasperated and fearing if they’ll get a return on their significant outlay.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hebei China Fortune – £290,000
The Argentine is averaging a goal every other game for his Chinese club but there is no way the 33-year-old would be earning anywhere near what he does if he’d stayed at PSG.
Graziano Pelle, Shandong Luneng – £290,000
One of the first players to trade in the Premier League for the Far East back in 2016, the former Southampton striker wanted to cash in while he could. And it looks like he’s been doing just that. 23 goals in 59 games is probably not the return his club wanted after paying him almost £300,000 a week.