Former Premier League stars Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are both among the top five best paid footballers in Major League Soccer (MLS) this year, earning N1.2b (£4.2million) and N1.1b (£4.1m) respectively with LA Galaxy and NYCFC, according to official salary data just released, the Daily Mail reports.
But the former England midfielders are ranked only No 4 and No 5 in the top earners, with Brazil’s Kaka taking spot, earning N1.3b (£4.87m) at Orlando, while Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley of Toronto are at No 2 and No 3, on £4.84m and and £4.2m respectively.
The table below shows the top 12 earners and there are a number of former stars of English clubs in the upper echelons of the list.
Jozy Altidore is at No 8 on £3.3m a year, with Clint Dempsey at No 9 on £3.1m and Robbie Keane at No 11 on £2.4m, just ahead of Tim Howard on £1.75m.
Howard in turn is just ahead of Didier Drogba in 13th place on £1.48m.
Andrea Pirlo, former midfield genius with Juventus and Italy, is at No 6, wedged between NYCFC team-mates Lampard and David Villa, earning £4m.
The MLS’s image of a place where older players go to retire will likely endure for a while longer as players well into their 30s like Lampard, Gerrard, Pirlo, Keane and Drogba remain the star names.
The US league will also struggle to attract the biggest younger names in their peak years while the major European clubs can pay more – and they do.
Only 14 of 555 players listed in the pay ranks released today earn more than £1m a year with their MLS clubs. The average salary across those 555 players is £215,000.
To put that in perspective, that is approximately one tenth of the average annual wage now being earned in the Premier League.
Toronto have the highest salary bill for any single club, at £14.8m, followed by Sheik Mansour’s NYCFC on £14.4m. Only one other franchise has a nine-digit payroll in pounds – Gerrard’s LA Galaxy, formerly home to the original ‘marquee’ player David Beckham.