Premier League’s highest paid player each season from 1992 to 2022

The astronomical earnings of Premier League footballers are now so common knowledge that figures such as £200,000 per-week hardly come as a shock anymore.

But factor in the fact that the average UK salary is £31,285 and you start to get a grasp on just how much our footballing heroes pocket for their on-pitch efforts. Though the dynamic of those at the top of the sport earning more than the average worker on the street has long been the case, the kind of earnings currently being seen are a huge increase from even the start of the Premier League-era.

Some clubs have undergone new ownership and as a result found themselves backed by Saudi investment funds or Russian Oligarchs, in turn allowing them to flex their financial muscles and promise the game’s best players the most lucrative wages.

The figure that has earned a certain player the title of ‘highest-paid Premier League star’ has increased nearly every single year but the contrast from the inaugural campaign to present day almost defies description.

Mirror Football has taken a look at the highest earning player from each Premier League season, revealing how much they were pocketing and whether they ended up proving their worth on the pitch in the process.

1992/93 & 1993/94 – John Barnes, £10,000-per-week

The Liverpool legend made history when he became the first British player to receive £10,000-per-week when he joined the Reds way back in 1987. Though he arrived at Anfield five years before the eventual inception of the Premier League, he remained on those wages during a hugely transitional period for English football.

Barnes’ salary sent shockwaves through the game in its own right, especially given that at the time the average annual wage of a Premier League player was just £77,000. The Liverpool hero was taking home £520,000-per-year.

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

This season actually saw Barnes and Chris Sutton enjoy the status of being the league’s highest earners for the bulk of the campaign on £10,000-per-week. However, they swiftly had their thunder stolen when Cantona was rewarded for his efforts for Manchester United with a bumper new deal later on that term.

The Frenchman was granted £18,000-per-week by the Red Devils, despite the fact Cantona caused huge controversy when he kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace fan who had run down 11 rows of stairs to confront and shout abuse at him.

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

Dennis Bergkamp pocketed £25,000-per-week in his early Arsenal days

Affectionately dubbed as ‘the Iceman’ by Gunners supporters, Bergkamp joined Arsenal with plenty to prove after a stint with Serie A giants Inter Milan. While he would silence any doubters in spectacular fashion, he did so while earning a pretty penny from the North London outfit.

All of Arsenal’s Premier League title wins came while Bergkamp was at the club. The mercurial midfielder more than justified his £25,000-per-week wage with some of the most iconic goals in English football history, none more obvious than his famous turn-and-flicked finish away at Newcastle United in 2002.

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

Another player that arrived on English shores from the Italian top flight, Middlesbrough paid £7million for the services of Ravanelli from Turin-based titans Juventus.

The striker spent just one season at the Riverside, but what a season it was as the Italy international netted a stunning 31 goals in 48 matches across all competitions to prove he was worth every penny of the £42,000 he was being paid weekly.

Ravanelli’s goals helped the club reach the finals of both domestic cup competitions, though he could not get them over the line to secure any silverware as they lost both to Chelsea in the FA Cup and Leicester City in the League Cup.

1997/98 & 1998/99 – Alan Shearer, £34,000-per-week

Following Ravanelli’s departure to Marseille in the wake of Middlesbrough’s relegation, Shearer became the highest paid player in the Premier League while at boyhood club Newcastle United.

The England international was a goal machine everywhere he went and remains the highest scoring player in Premier League history to this day.

Surprisingly, all of Shearer’s individual honours came outside of the two-season window where he was the highest earning player in the division. His last Premier League golden boot came the season prior while Ravanelli was topping the wage charts.

1999/00 & 00/01 – Roy Keane, £52,000-per-week

The tough-tackling, no-nonsense iconic United midfielder was not known for purchasing anything flashy and therefore his weekly wage never really generated much attention.

With that being said, the fact he had surpassed the £50,000 mark before 2000 is a testament to how highly-rated Keane was by the very same United hierarchy he would go on to fall out with in explosive fashion years later.

Keane’s salary increase came just after United had secured a historic treble with the Irishman very much integral to that achievement.

2001/02 & 2002/03 – Roy Keane, £90,000-per-week

Roy Keane spent four seasons as the Premier League’s highest-paid player

Keane features in this list yet again ensuring he held the title of the Premier League’s highest paid player for four seasons following his contract extension prior to the start of the 2001/02 season.

United’s legendary skipper saw his weekly wage increase by £38,000 to take his earnings up to £90,000-per-week as the Red Devils looked to continue their dominance over English football.

It didn’t entirely work out, as the 01/02 campaign marked the first time in four years that United ended the season without any silverware to show for their efforts.

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

This was the season that saw Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea revolution get underway and Hernan Crespo was one of many marquee signings the Russian would sanction during his time as Blues owner.

Though Chelsea fell short ultimate league glory due to Arsenal’s invincible status, they did boast the highest paid player in the division thanks to the Argentine.

Crespo’s time at Stamford Bridge arguably underwhelmed given he spent three of his five seasons at the club away on loan with both AC and Inter Milan respectively, but he does have a Premier League title from 2005/06 to show for his stay in West London.

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

Frank Lampard was Chelsea’s highest paid player when they won their first Premier League title

At the start of Jose Mourinho’s period of Chelsea dominance, Lampard was made the highest paid player in the Premier League in a deal that was just shy of £100,000 per-week.

The ex-England international left little doubt that he was worth every penny as the Blues charged to their first Premier League title, boasting the most resilient defence on record as they did it.

It is fitting that their highest earner in Lampard was the one who effectively secured Chelsea’s title with his goal away at Bolton, sending the travelling Blues contingent into raptures.

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

Fresh off the high of one of the most memorable Champions League triumphs in football history, Gerrard returned to Merseyside to pen a new contract that saw him become the first Premier League star to receive £100,000-per-week.

Many feel that Liverpool’s hand was forced during contract negotiations given Chelsea made no secret of their huge desire to bring Gerrard to Stamford Bridge to play his part in the Mourinho revolution.

His loyalty was rewarded with record wages though the midfielder’s head was undeniably turned by the bright lights of the Bridge.

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

The forward was brought in from AC Milan for big wages but failed to repay Chelsea’s financial leap of faith by some distance.

Shevchenko returned just four goals in 30 appearances during his debut season, hardly the return many expected when Chelsea forked out the most money a British club had ever paid for a player in terms of transfer fee.

He lasted just two seasons at the club before was loaned back to the San Siro to spend the entirety of the 2008/09 season with AC once again.

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

Terry continues the theme of Chelsea dominance during the mid-to-late noughties as Roman’s Russian wealth bankrolled the club’s success.

The central defender pocketed £135,000 every week as he established himself as arguably the best in his position across the entire division.

The ex-England skipper is still adored by the Chelsea faithful to this day, though his costly slip in the Champions League final at the end of this season still lives long in the memory.

2008/09 – Robinho, £160,000-per-week

Robinho underwhelmed at Manchester City



The Brazilian’s arrival in the blue half of Manchester marked a shift in power as Man City declared themselves as one of the division’s big-hitters.

Though it was take another four years before they won the league, Robinho’s arrival represented a new dawn for the club as they proved they now had the riches to entice the greatest players the game had to offer.

The former Real Madrid man netted 14 goals in 31 appearances to complete an average debut campaign.

2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12 & 2012/13 – Carlos Tevez, £250,000-per-week

Man City changed the landscape of wages entirely when they agreed to pay Carlos Tevez a jaw-dropping amount of £250,000-per-week four four seasons.

It was a sum that the Argentine initially justified with some fantastic performances, but eventually tailed off to the point where he had a very public bust-up with then-manager Roberto Mancini and refused to come off the bench during a Champions League tie.

Tevez proceeded to spend the months after playing golf back in South America after he was temporarily exiled from the first-team fold at the Etihad.

2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 & 2016/17 – Wayne Rooney, £300,000-per-week

During the tail-end of the 2013/14 season Yaya Toure had actually overtaken his Man City teammate Carlos Tevez but before the season’s close Rooney earned himself a contract worth £300,000 every week.

The deal came off the back of intense negotiations with the United hierarchy over his previous deal, during which time Rooney had actually threatened to leave the club due to frustrations with the transfer dealings.

This contract tied him to Old Trafford for another five-and-a-half years, during which time United failed to win another League title but did secure an FA Cup, League Cup and a Europa League crown.

2017/18 & 2018/19 – Alexis Sanchez, £350,000-per-week

The Chilean joined United mid-way through the 2017/18 season from Arsenal and is reported to have told his agent if there was any way he could go back to the Gunners after just one training session at Carrington.

That perhaps sums up Sanchez’s time at Old Trafford best, though the former Barcelona star enjoyed the best earnings of his career while a Red Devils player – he simply failed to justify those wages with his standard of performance.

Inheriting the club’s iconic number seven shirt, Sanchez netted just three Premier League goals across the course of his entire United stay.

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

David de Gea was once Manchester United’s highest earner


Getty Images)

Yet another United talent, De Gea briefly became the club’s highest earner at a time when his form was arguably at his lowest it had been for years.

An incredible club servant, the Spanish stalwart signed a mega-money contract extension during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign but has started to look closer to being back to his best under interim boss Ralf Rangnick this season.

It is very plausible that this deal with be De Gea’s last at Old Trafford as reports mount that the club are mulling over potential replacements.

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

This figure is made even more astonishing when you factor in the bulk of it was being paid by a club not reaping the benefits of Bale’s ability.

The Welshman became the highest earner in the Premier League when he joined former side Spurs on a season long-loan deal last term from parent club Real Madrid.

It is widely reported that Los Blancos actually covered the bulk of this enormous weekly wage, with Tottenham only having to fork out for 40% of it. With that being said, Bale’s homecoming hardly set the world alight and he is now back at the Bernabeu with the Spanish giants.

2021/22 – Cristiano Ronaldo, £480,000-per-week

The prodigal son of Old Trafford made a triumphant return at the tail-end of last summer’s transfer window in a deal that saw United snap up his signature for around just £20m.

There was a catch, however, as what United were able to avoid in transfer fees they are now effectively coughing up in wages with Ronaldo comfortably the highest paid player in the division.

He has proved he can still mix it in the English top flight, with the 37-year-old currently sitting comfortably at the top of United’s scoring charts but Ronaldo’s return has sparked intense tactical debate over whether his presence hinders more than it helps.

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