It is a well known fact that footballers earn crazy money and the debate about whether or not they ‘deserve’ it will always remain.
You could argue that becoming a professional footballer is such a difficult dream to achieve that the rewards should be so high, to reflect dedication to the sport from a very young age.
You could also argue that market forces alone suggest that their salaries are ‘deserved’. In 2013/14, the 20 Premier League clubs generated a combined pre-tax profit of £190m – so clubs can continue to make money despite having such huge wage bills.
I guess it all goes down to your own definition of the word ‘deserved’.
But there is no doubt that some players justify their huge pay packets more than others.
Here we look at 8 Newcastle United players who had ridiculous salaries. Vote in our poll at the end of the article to decide who was the biggest waste of money.
Michael Owen – £133,000 per week
Newcastle’s record signing (£16.8m) took home £133,000 per week during his time on Tyneside. Not bad for someone who spent most of his time recovering from injury. He cost Newcastle United in excess of £40m (wages, salary and bonuses combined) which equates to about £1.3m per goal.
Mark Viduka – £80,000 per week
The Australian striker was Sam Allardyce’s first signing for Newcastle, joining the club on a free transfer. At the age of 31, it may have been understandable that his best years were behind him but he didn’t come anywhere near to replicating the form he had shown during stints at his previous clubs.
Overall, he recorded 7 goals for the Toon in 40 appearances – scoring an impressive total of zero in the 2008/9 season where Newcastle were relegated from the top flight. This was the first time the big Australian had failed to record a goal in an entire season since the start of his professional football career.
Damien Duff – £70,000 per week
The man who single handedly relegated Newcastle United to the Championship on the last day of the 2008/9 season.
Ok, that might not be entirely fair. However, it was his boot that deflected a 20-yard shot by Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry that ultimately sealed Newcastle’s fate in the crucial relegation decider – although the blame was rightfully shouldered by the whole club for their disastrous performance on the pitch for much of the season.
Duff signed for Newcastle in a deal worth £5m in 2006, securing a weekly salary of £70,000 in the process but despite his lucrative contract, he failed to replicate the form that he had shown earlier on in his career, the form that persuaded Chelsea to part with £20m to secure his services in 2003.
The Republic of Ireland international vowed to stay with the Toon the help them regain promotion to the Premier League and he stayed true to his word, for one game. He scored the equalizer in Newcastle’s opening game of the 2009/10 Championship season against West Brom, which ended 1-1 before being sold to Fulham for a fee of £4m and securing his own, prompt return to the Premiership.
Xisco – £50,000 per week
Some football contracts are truly inexplicable, none more so than the one Xisco was offered back in 2008. A six-year contract was offered to the Spaniard worth £50,000 per week, with no relegation clause to reduce his wages. This came in particularly handy when Newcastle were relegated at the end of his first season.
In total he was at Newcastle United for 5 years, making just 9 appearances – 4 of which were as a substitute. His contract was finally terminated in January 2013.
Overall, Xisco cost Newcastle a staggering £18.25m which equates to over £2m per appearance and £18.25m per goal.
Geremi – £60,000 per week
Another one of Sam Allardyce’s signings, Geremi was brought to Newcastle from Chelsea in 2007, securing a deal worth £60,000 per week for the Cameroon international.
Despite playing well for Middlesborough before signing for the Blues and also enjoying an impressive first season at Stamford Bridge, his formed tailed off towards the end of his time under Jose Mourinho; which makes you wonder why he was deemed worthy of such a lucrative deal at Newcastle.
His large salary demands would have been forgotten were he able to consistently perform in a black and white shirt. However, this was not the case. His salary was reduced to £40,000 when Newcastle were relegated to the Championship but he still failed to make much of an impact despite playing in a lower league.
Albert Luque – £35,000 per week
Another Spanish forward who proved to be a complete waste of money. However, he did score a delightful goal against Sunderland (his first goal for the Toon, one of only 3 during his time on Tyneside) when Newcastle cruised to a 4-1 victory at the Stadium of Light in 2006.
Sadly, this achievement on its own was not enough to justify his hefty price tag of £9.5m or his significant pay packet.
“1-0 down, 4-1 up, Albert Luque wrapped it up”
Cacapa – £40,000 per week
There seems to be a common theme in this list – signings by Sam Allardyce! Signing on a free transfer in 2007, Brazilian defender Cacapa was offered a salary of £40,000 per week despite joining the club at the age of 31. It is a lot of money for a player who had already passed his peak, especially considering his main job at Newcastle appeared to be as a bench warmer. He made a total of 20 appearances for the Toon (including substitute appearances).
Alan Smith – £60,000
A player who started out as a striker for Leeds United, Alan Smith was then moulded into a midfielder by Sir Alex Ferguson whilst at Manchester United. He was once one of England’s most promising talents but his early career was blighted by injury, particularly during his spell at Old Trafford. Ferguson described Smith’s broken leg as “one of the worst I’ve seen”, when talking about the injury he sustained during an FA Cup against Liverpool in 2006.
It’s fair to say that Newcastle have been unlucky when it comes to injuries over the years – but it doesn’t help when injury-prone players are bought and it makes it even worse when they are given ludicrous contracts.
Smith was paid £60,000 a week during his spell on Tyneside which lasted 5 years. He continued to rake in the same amount of money each week when the team were playing in the Championship and never recorded a goal for the Magpies.
Oh, did we mention he was also another signing by Sam Allardyce?