Ronaldo, Gerrard, Rooney, Bale: The highest-paid player in each Premier League season

Norwich City v Manchester United - Premier League

Wages in football have been spiralling out of control for many years.

It’s becoming more and more common to see star footballers run down their lucrative contracts in order to agree astronomical wages elsewhere or at their current club. We’re looking at you, Kylian Mbappe…

It’s not just abroad where wages have got a bit silly though.

Here in the Premier League, salaries have increased constantly.

And a brilliant video by HITC Sevens last year highlighted that superbly.

They looked at the highest-paid player in each Premier League campaign and how the wages have steadily risen.

We have used Sportrac to collect data for the previous two campaigns.

So, let’s see how weekly wages have gone from £10,000-per-week to more than half a million every week in the Premier League era…

1992/93 – John Barnes (£10,000-per-week)

1993/94 – John Barnes (£10,000-per-week)

Barnes became the first player in the country to earn £10,000-per week when he signed for Liverpool in 1987. He held the wage top spot until 1994.

Liverpool v Sheffield Wednesday

1994/95 – Eric Cantona (£18,000-per-week)

Eric Cantona briefly was the top-paid player when he was given his new contract at Manchester United in April 1995 but another player took over for the start of the following campaign…

1995/96 – Dennis Bergkamp (£25,000-per-week)

Arsenal smashed their transfer record when they paid Inter £7.5m for Bergkamp in 1995. They also made him the best-paid player in the Premier League at £25,000-per-week.

1996/97 – Fabrizio Ravanelli (£42,000-per-week)

A Middlesbrough player being the best-paid player in the Premier League? You better believe it. Ravanelli wasn’t at the Riverside Stadium long but he repaid his record wages with 32 goals in 50 games before moving to Marseille.

Fabrizio Ravanelli of Italy

1997/98 – Alan Shearer (£34,000-per-week)

1998/99 – Alan Shearer (£34,000-per-week)

With Ravanelli’s departure, the record wage actually dropped to £34,000-per-week – which Shearer was collecting at Newcastle. He returned plenty of goals for that salary.

Newcastle United v Sunderland Premier League 1997

1999/00 – Roy Keane (£52,000-per-week)

2000/01 – Roy Keane (£52,000-per-week)

2001/02 – Roy Keane (£90,000-per-week)

2002/03 – Roy Keane (£90,000-per-week)

Keane is often overlooked when thinking of Man Utd’s great players but the midfielder became the league’s top earner when he signed a new 52,000-per-week contract in December 1999. He was then given a huge pay rise in 2001 to stay top of the payroll until 2003.

Enter Roman Abramovich…

Roy Keane

2003/04 – Hernan Crespo (£94,000-per-week)

Crespo was given a huge amount of money to sign for Chelsea but could only manage 25 goals in 73 appearances at Stamford Bridge.

2004/05 – Frank Lampard (£98,000-per-week)

After signing a new contract in 2004, Lampard became the league’s top-earner with a £98,000-per-week deal.

2005/06 – Steven Gerrard (£100,000-per-week)

But the following season, Gerrard became the Premier League’s first £100,000-per-week player. He was given a new four-year deal after almost signing for Chelsea after Liverpool’s Champions League win.

Leicester City v Liverpool - Premier League

2006/07 – Andriy Shevchenko (£118,000-per-week)

Chelsea had become a force in English and European football thanks to Abramovich’s millions. Shevchenko signed a contract worth £118,000-per-week but was unable to repay much of those wages.

2007/08 – John Terry (£135,000-per-week)

With Chelsea dominating the Premier League, it made sense their captain – and one of the best defenders in world football – was the best-paid player in the Premier League.

2008/09 – Robinho (£160,000-per-week)

And here comes Sheikh Mansour…

One of his first marquee signings at Manchester City was Robinho, who was persuaded to the Etihad with £160,000-per-week wages. He lasted just two seasons…

Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League

2009/10 – Carlos Tevez (£250,000-per-week)

2010/11 – Carlos Tevez (£250,000-per-week)

2011/12 – Carlos Tevez (£250,000-per-week)

2012/13 – Carlos Tevez (£250,000-per-week)

From £160,000-per-week to £250,000-per-week in the space of one season.

City had to somehow convince Tevez to move from Man Utd and they found 250,000 reasons why he should do the unthinkable. It saw him have the status of the league’s richest player until he left the club.

Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League

2013/14 – Wayne Rooney (£300,000-per-week)

2014/15 – Wayne Rooney (£300,000-per-week)

2015/16 – Wayne Rooney (£300,000-per-week)

2016/17 – Wayne Rooney (£300,000-per-week)

Rooney saw the money being dished out at Man City and wanted a slice of the pie. His £300,000-per-week contract topped the pile for four seasons until he left for the MLS.

Manchester United v Stoke City - Premier League

2017/18 – Alexis Sanchez (£350,000-per-week)

2018/19 – Alexis Sanchez (£350,000-per-week)

Okay, United didn’t pay much of a transfer fee for Sanchez but it proved to be an absolute disastrous signing – especially when you consider his £350,000-per-week wages.

Manchester United v Sevilla FC  - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg

2019/20 – David de Gea (£375,000-per-week)

De Gea signed a huge new contract at the start of the 2019/20 campaign which saw him take home £375,000-per-week. He’s still one of the league’s top earners.

2020/21 – Gareth Bale (£560,000-per-week)

Bale was on loan at Tottenham from Real Madrid during the 2020/21 season, who were paying him a ridiculous £560,000-per-week.

Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley - Premier League

2021/22 – Cristiano Ronaldo (£510,000-per-week)

United paid Ronaldo more than half a million pounds per week to get him back to Old Trafford. And despite his advancing years, the Portuguese superstar proved he was worth the remuneration with 24 goals in all competitions.

2021/22 – Cristiano Ronaldo (£510,000-per-week)

Despite Man City signing Erling Haaland, it seems Ronaldo will still be the Premier League’s highest earner in 2021/22. According to talkSPORT, Haaland will take home a basic salary of £375,000-a-week. Poor bloke. No matter what happens in the remainder of the transfer window, nobody will surpass Ronaldo’s wage.

Norwich City v Manchester United - Premier League
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