x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Wages of sin? At least it's open

It is tempting to think that footballers are overpaid. "£100,000 (Dh564,712) a week and can't even score from the penalty spot!" is the constant refrain from the man in the stands.

It is tempting to think that footballers are overpaid. "£100,000 (Dh564,712) a week and can't even score from the penalty spot!" is the constant refrain from the man in the stands. There is also wide evidence of reckless transfer fees. Samuel Eto'o, the former Barcelona striker, was traded for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with a sweetener of €40million (Dh196.6m) to ease the deal. "How can Ibrahimovic be worth €40m more than Eto'o?" you might ask. Plain answer is he probably isn't, but someone got carried away.

However, much of the evidence suggests the best teams have the best-paid players. In the English Premier League the top three teams are Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. It should surprise nobody they are also the three teams that pay the best wages, and in that order. Few workers are as scrutinised as football players. An employee at Goldman Sachs is assessed by bosses and underlings, but footballers receive criticism on a daily basis, some of it harsh, but much of it informed.

Dimitar Berbatov, a Manchester United striker, moved from Tottenham Hotspur on a £30m transfer fee. Most watchers agree he has failed to live up to expectations. But unlike many other businesses, where big-name signings are allowed to underperform, if Berbatov fails to raise his game he will be sold without a backward glance. We may resent the money footballers earn, but at least it is transparent. Play as well as Barcelona's Lionel Messi, probably the best striker in the world at present, and you too will find the world - and a ball - at your feet.

rwright@thenational.ae