Five players who shouldn’t be their club’s highest earners


James Rodriguez should not be Everton’s best-paid player but he is not alone in that regard in the Premier League. Nor even on Merseyside…

Everton – James Rodriguez

Guilt is likely not the motivating factor behind the panicked scramble for a Qatari suitor, although James Rodriguez might feel an element of remorse at being on the biggest wage at Everton. His earnings are likely to be highly incentivised but even at base level the Colombian will take home a great deal more than his teammates while playing COD and struggling to recall his employer’s next fixture.

Everton have until the end of September to negotiate his departure for the Middle East and shift their most cumbersome piece of deadwood. Mo Besic, Yannick Bolasie, Josh King, Theo Walcott, Bernard and Moise Kean were all moved on in the summer. The quietly sanctioned exit of Rodriguez would ease that wage bill further and leave compatriot Yerry Mina as Goodison Park’s highest earners.

Liverpool – Virgil van Dijk

Take those bloody oven gloves off because this isn’t that hot a take. Virgil van Dijk is pretty good at football. A weekly wage of £220,000 is relatively low in comparison to many peers when you consider the talent it pays for and how difficult to replace he is. Last season and Milan at Anfield a few days ago provide compelling arguments to his importance. But he is not Liverpool’s best or most crucial player. There are others in the squad who can fulfil his role, just not to the same standard. No-one else in the team or even perhaps the world can hope to replicate Mo Salah’s impact, record and ability to define their entire attack and render a defence futile. When the best-paid player in the league is 36 is hardly matters that the Egyptian turns 30 next summer; he is in peak condition and his numbers on the pitch are ludicrous so the figures off it should reflect that.

Newcastle – Joelinton

Jonjo Shelvey and Allan Saint-Maximin have both been cited in some quarters as Newcastle’s best-paid player, while Joe Willock was said to have joined their highest earners upon his permanent move to St James’ Park. But most reports name Joelinton as the man who takes home more than anyone else. It is possibly a case of The Banter being more appealing than the actual truth but we are all here now and it is worth pointing out that the mere idea is pretty funny.

The Brazilian is stuck on ten goals for Newcastle, putting him level with Leon Best and behind Ciaran Clark in the club’s all-time ranks. His assist for Saint-Maximin against Leeds was the first he had registered for the club since last December, and that is without mentioning how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would probably have already rescinded it. Those three years remaining on his contract should be fun.

Watford – Moussa Sissoko

Another player ahead of Joelinton in terms of career goals for Newcastle, Moussa Sissoko has started life at Watford well enough. Defeats to former club Tottenham and Wolves spoiled his arrival somewhat but Norwich poked the Hornets’ nest and Sissoko marshalled a comfortable win as a deep-lying midfielder.

That victory was inspired, however, by Ismaila Sarr. And as simplistic as it is to suggest a club’s best player should be their most well remunerated, it stands to reason at Vicarage Road. Their survival is more dependent on the forward than any teammate. Only six players across Europe’s top five leagues have been fouled more often this season and the bloke should be paid better for it.

West Ham – Kurt Zouma

The suggestion was that Kurt Zouma had caused something of a storm in West Ham’s dressing-room bubble. The centre-half, a two-time Premier League winner who picked up a Champions League medal as an unused substitute, rocked up at the London Stadium with a reported six-figure weekly wage and was said to have threatened the harmony fostered by David Moyes.

Michail Antonio might have had some questions as the club’s only striker – and one performing on another plane at that. Declan Rice would presumably be owed the biggest packet of all if he decided to commit his future to the Hammers. Arthur Masuaku won’t be far behind. But the best-paid player at the London Stadium? OK, Zouma.

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