A London-based marketing agency, Verve Search, and a Norwegian financial consultant, Finans, conducted the research study. According to the study, 5% of MLS players earn €100,000 ($107,000) or more per week compared to only 3% of Serie A players. Only Juventus duo Gonzalo Higuaín and Miralem Pjanic, and AS Roma’s influential midfielder, Daniele De Rossi, earn over €100,000 a week in Serie A.
In contrast, four ex-Serie A stars—Kaká, Andrea Pirlo, Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley—along with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard earn over €100,000 per week in MLS.
Italy’s top flight lags further behind the Premier League and La Liga, and it now has seen the likes of MLS and the Chinese Super League overtake it in terms of offering higher wages to players. In the Premier League, 49% of the players earn more than the €100,000 threshold. In La Liga and the Chinese Super League, 15% of the players earn over €100,000 per week.
Higuaín’s wages of $159,000 per week are more than any MLS or Serie A player, while Kaká with $135,000 per week, and Giovinco with $134,000 per week are the highest earners in MLS.
MLS has become rather infamous for housing aged stars like Gerrard and Lampard, but its spending power being better than Serie A points to the fall from grace of Italy’s top flight. The Serie A of today is a far cry from the glory days of the 1980s and 1990s when players like Diego Maradona, Marco van Basten, and Lothar Matthäus graced the Italian game. Economic instability, as well as corruption and violence, has meant Serie A hasn’t truly entered the 21st century, as opposed to the Premier League and its huge global reach.
Moreover, the lack of competition in Serie A has also played a part in the league’s inability to attract big-name players and new fans. The current champions, Juventus, have won the scudetto in each of the past five seasons. Such one-sidedness has had a negative impact on TV viewing figures, thereby affecting clubs’ earning and spending power.
According to 2016/17 figures, the combined wages of Higuaín, Pjanic, and De Rossi is more than the wage budget of 13 of the 20 Serie A clubs. Such disparity is a result of the rich getting richer, like Juventus, and will serve to only widen the divide in the coming years.