From the FourFourTwo.com Rich List: the wealthiest players in British soccer
Manchester City Age 25
Brazilian star Robinho was personally picked by Pelé as his heir apparent aged just 15. He went on to lead Brazilian club Santos to the title in 2002, its first since Pelé himself played for the same club. In July 2005, Spanish giants Real Madrid signed Robinho for around £20m. He was whisked from under the noses of Chelsea by Manchester City on 1 September 2008, the final day of the Premier League summer transfer window.
The fee was £32.5m, with wages in the region of £160,000 per week, trebling his Real salary. It took place on the same day the club was bought out by the Arab investment company Abu Dhabi United Group. He has sporadically struggled since to justify his wages, but with a Nike sponsorship deal and share of transfers, Robinho should be worth £10m right now.
Manchester United Age 27
His acrimonious £30.75m transfer to Manchester United in August 2008 saw Bertabov increase his pay from £45,000 to £80,000 a week, following two highly successful seasons with Tottenham Hotspur. He had joined Spurs for £10.9m from the German club Bayer Leverkusen in 2006.
The Bulgarian’s languid style has not endeared him to the Stretford End but he is gaining confidence and should justify his fee. But with property prices down and as Berbatov is a strong supporter of charity in Bulgaria, we cut him back to £11m this year.
Chelsea Age 27
Joe Cole has put new contract talks and thoughts of an England recall on hold while he returns to full fitness for Chelsea. Since suffering cruciate ligament damage, Cole was sidelined for eight months and watched Fabio Capello's England continue their 100% qualifying record on their way to the World Cup while Chelsea start the Premier League in domineering fashion. He has now returned from injury and taken his place in the Chelsea squad.
His 2003 move from West Ham to Chelsea meant his weekly salary rose from £25,000 to £30,000. He moved for a £6.6m fee which will have meant a hefty cut for him. He signed an improved £80,000-a-week contract in June 2006 and has endorsement deals with Samsung and Adidas. He enjoys the usual footballer trappings of property in Dubai and fast cars. There is little in his company, Joe Cole Promotions, with just £10,000 net assets in 2007-08. With property prices down we value him at £11m.
Fulham Age 30
Top-flight football means a lot to Damien Duff. After all, he was only three years into a five-year, £70,000-a-week contract with Newcastle United – who, infamously, hadn't thought to include relegation clauses in their players' contracts. Oops.
Duff could have sat tight for the £7m remaining on his contract but he opted to stay in the top flight with Fulham. You get the impression football is more important to him than money; he stayed remarkably calm in 2003 when Chelsea, emboldened and empowered by the newfound wealth provided by Roman Abramovich, gradually increased their offer for the then Blackburn winger until they reached £17m and triggered a release clause in his contract. The Irishman simply shrugged his shoulders, moved clubs and set about impressing his new employers.
Duff has invested heavily in property in Ireland, with homes also in London, Newcastle and the Caribbean. He has an endorsement contract with Lucozade and his company Lightzest showed £916,621 net assets in 2007. But Irish property prices have crashed and despite his share of transfer fees we cut Duff back to £12m this year.
Manchester United Age 34
Manchester United captain and former England stalwart Gary Neville has been likened to a shop steward for his combative defence of players' rights and interests. Neville is idolised at Old Trafford as he is a United man through and through. A talented cricketer in his youth, Neville was one of the famous youth team at United called Fergie's Fledglings and signed for the club in 1991. He made his debut in 1994. A year later he made his debut for England and is now England's most capped right-back with 85 caps.
Neville has won eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two European Cups and one League Cup, the last of which was his first trophy as captain. He signed an £11m deal with the club in 2001. Since then his club wages have risen to around £2.6m annually. With past endorsements including a Diadora boot deal, a role in a Pepsi ad and a column for The Times, we reckon he now earns over £3m a year. He has two homes near Manchester including a £1.5m Manchester penthouse plus a £700,000 villa on Malta. Even with property prices down he should still be worth £12m after-tax.
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