Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs: 20 Premier League players who are stealing a living right now

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil

It’s no great secret that football operates within its own financial bubble, seemingly lacking any correlation with the normal world, and that only rings doubly true for the Premier League – the most financially lavish top flight in Europe. 

And yet, even within the context of football’s own mini-economy, some of the figures still defy belief, logic or reason.

We’ve got twenty fantastic examples of that right here, with GIVEMESPORT examining each Premier League squad’s reported wages and picking out one player that appears to be quite frankly stealing a very handsome living right now. 

All wage figures courtesy of Spotrac.

Arsenal – Mesut Ozil – £350k p/w

An easy one to start things off. Arsenal’s top earner has sent more inflammatory tweets than played minutes of football this season and isn’t even registered in Mikel Arteta’s Premier League squad. An enormous financial burden on the Gunners who seems determined to claim every single penny of his contract rather than find first-team football elsewhere. 

Aston Villa – Bjorn Engels – £55k p/w

Increasingly fallible performances and a serious injury have seen him plummet all the way down to fourth choice amongst Dean Smith’s centre-back options with the Belgium international yet to kick a ball this season. Unsurprisingly he’s been linked with a move away this month.

Brighton and Hove Albion – Adam Lallana – £90k p/w

Fair enough, Brighton didn’t have to pay a transfer fee for Lallana, but is he really worth £90k a week to them? The 32-year-old has done little more than look tidy in his early outings for the Seagulls and his wealth of experience hasn’t done much to transform the fortunes of a side battling it out for survival. 

Burnley – Matej Vydra – £35k p/w

£35k is hardly an arm and a leg in the context of Premier League wages, but it’s also a lot of money for Burnley to pay their fourth-choice centre-forward who has never made more than seven starts for them in a single top-flight campaign. Before the New Year’s action, his average time on the pitch per Clarets appearance in all competitions was just 38 minutes, and yet he takes home the same wages as goalkeeper Nick Pope.

Chelsea – Danny Drinkwater – £100k p/w

£100k a week to spark mass brawls in U23s games, barely kick a ball while on loan at Burnley and Aston Villa and get banned from driving after drunkenly crashing into a wall. Drinkwater’s Chelsea career has been nothing short of a complete nightmare but at least he’s taking home £5.2m each year. 

Chelsea midfielder Danny Drinkwater

Crystal Palace – Max Meyer – £125k p/w

Wilfried Zaha is the only Crystal Palace player who takes home more than Meyer. Let that sink in for a moment while you try to remember who Meyer actually is or what he looks like. You’d be forgiven for forgetting – last season he made just six Premier League starts and this term has only featured in cup competitions. Incredibly, the 25-year-old was once considered to be one of German football’s most promising youngsters.

Everton – Bernard – £120k p/w

Much like Lallana, while Bernard’s wages can be somewhat justified by the fact he was signed on a free transfer, it’s much harder to justify his status as Everton’s joint-top earner. While the Brazilian’s got some quality in his locker, he’s been an unused substitute in more games than he’s featured in this season despite James Rodriguez’s injury problems and Richarlison missing matches through suspension. 

Fulham – Jean Michael Seri – £65k p/w

Seri’s Fulham career went relatively well for about seven months. Then he lost his place in the starting XI, spent last season out on loan at Galatasaray and subsequently failed to earn a move away from Craven Cottage in the summer – meaning he’s now being paid £65k per week despite not being registered in Scott Parker’s Premier League squad. Surely one of the first players Fulham will want to push out the exit door this month.

Leeds – Gaetano Berardi – £32k p/w

Yes, we know Berardi is something of a cult hero up in Yorkshire. But is he enough of a cult hero to be the fifth-highest earner in Marcelo Bielsa’s squad? The feisty Switzerland international has never managed 30 starts for Leeds in a single season – largely because he’s usually getting himself suspended – and bizarrely had his contract extended for this term despite suffering from a serious injury that has kept him sidelined for the entire campaign. 

Leicester City – Islam Slimani – £80k p/w

Slimani may have shown what he can do on loan with Monaco last season with nine goals and seven assists but as far as the current situation at Leicester goes, he’s picking up £80k per week purely to make up the numbers. He’s registered just 19 minutes of action this season, which came in the only match he’s managed to make the bench for, and yet takes home the same wages as defensive stalwart Jonny Evans. 

Liverpool – Xherdan Shaqiri – £80k p/w

Sure, every top squad needs that cameo man who occasionally comes in and offers something a little different, but Shaqiri takes that privilege to the extreme. He’s bringing home £80k per week despite starting only 13 Premier League matches since the start of last season, while the arrival of Diogo Jota and emergence of Curtis Jones surely only puts his game-time under further threat. One piece of relative genius every couple of months doesn’t justify such a hefty outlay. 

Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp hugs Xherdan Shaqiri

Manchester City – Benjamin Mendy – £90k p/w

Injuries have unfortunately ruined Mendy and at this point you have to wonder whether he’ll ever return to being the player Manchester City agreed to pay £90k per week for. He’s not even an automatic starter when fit anymore despite being the only natural left-back at Pep Guardiola’s disposal, which pretty much says it all. 

Manchester United – Marcos Rojo – £80k p/w

Rojo is a classic example of World Cup performances drastically skewing a player’s actual ability. The Argentina international has never lived up to expectations at United and is somehow into his seventh season at Old Trafford, despite being riddled with injuries and often costing the Red Devils with incredibly rash challenges. With everybody fit, would he even be fifth or sixth-choice  at centre-back? Only Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will know the answer to that question but a mere eleven starts over the last three seasons speaks for itself. 

Newcastle – Emil Krafth – £58k p/w

Whoever decided to make Krafth Newcastle’s fourth-top earner had clearly never seen him play football before. The Sweden international can operate at right-back or centre-half but barely gets a game despite Newcastle’s largely limited quality in those positions, with even midfielder Isaac Hayden featuring at the back instead of him at times this season. An unnecessary expense that Steve Bruce surely isn’t too happy about. 

Sheffield United – Phil Jagielka – £50k p/w

Yes, we’re sure Phil Jagielka is a real presence in Sheffield United’s changing room and of course, it’s always great to see an academy product spend the final years of their career at their boyhood club. But the former England man is the Blades’ highest earner by quite some distance – £18k per week to be exact – and yet he’s made just three Premier League starts in since the beginning of last season. Surely those wages could be better spent on a player with the quality to keep Sheffield United up, rather than a 38-year-old centre-back who can’t get into the worst team in the Premier League.

Southampton – Fraser Forster – £70k p/w

In fairness to Forster, he was once amongst the most impressive goalkeepers in the Premier League. But that seems a lifetime ago now and Saints are now in a situation where their second-choice goalkeeper takes home £20k a week more than their No.1, Alex McCarthy. Also their second-top earner throughout the squad, Forster’s eating up a lot of wages with spectacularly little to show for it – he wasn’t even given a runout in Southampton’s Carabao Cup defeat to Brentford. 

Tottenham – Danny Rose – £60k p/w

Rose just hasn’t recovered from marching into Jose Mourinho’s office and throwing a hissy fit because he couldn’t get a game over Japhet Tanganga, as caught on camera in Tottenham’s All Or Nothing documentary. After an underwhelming loan spell at Newcastle, it’s not even clear if he’d be Mourinho’s third-choice left-back with everybody fit, but he’s definitely well out of the first team picture. He’s not made a Premier League squad so far this season.

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Bosko Balaban

Striker from the Balkans

West Brom – Charlie Austin – £70k p/w

Proof that clubs will always pay big money for players possessing natural instinctiveness in front of goal. That’s always been Austin’s most defining trait but whether it makes his salary cost-effective remains a separate debate altogether. With Karlan Grant and Callum Robinson now on the books at the Hawthorns, Austin looks set to serve as a bit-part player at best this term, despite being the Baggies’ best-paid player by a margin of £15k a week. 

West Ham – Andriy Yarmolenko – £115k p/w

£115k a week for a winger who seems to have virtually no interest in running, doesn’t particularly suit West Ham’s style of play and has spent most of his time in east London out injured. In fairness, Yarmolenko’s got the quality to be a match-winner on his day – the only problem is that those days are incredibly few and far between. He’s West Ham’s second-highest earner and even if he were fully fit, he wouldn’t get into the starting XI over Jarrod Bowen anyway. 

Wolves – Fabio Silva – £80k p/w

Don’t get us wrong, Silva looks like a promising enough talent even if he’s inevitably struggled to fill Raul Jimenez’s void – we’re just not sure quite how he’s managed to secure an £80k per-week contract for himself at the age of 18. Maybe in a few years that decision will justify itself, but at the moment the figure stands out in a Wolves squad which has otherwise been assembled around a very solid wage structure that sees very few players take home more than what they’re worth.

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