Robbie Keane was yesterday revealed to be the fourth highest-paid player in America's Major League Soccer following his transfer to Los Angeles Galaxy. The 31-year-old Irish striker is being paid US$3.4m a year plus bonuses.
The identity of the two biggest earners is no surprise. David Beckham is on US$6.5m and Thierry Henry US$5.6m. Third is former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, whose Mexican nationality is as a big a drawcard as his time at Nou Camp. He earns US$4.6m.
The surprising aspect of Keane's salary is that he out-earns Galaxy team-mate Landon Donovan. America's most high-profile player picks up US$2.3m.
If these figures suggest MLS is a high-paying league, they are misleading. Only nine players earn more than $1m a year and the salaries are public knowledge, in part because that is a more common practice in American sport, but also because it is the players' union who release them to show their members are not rich.
While Galaxy are able to pay Beckham, Keane and Donovan US$12.2m between them, most of the squad earn far less with the goalkeeper in their midweek Concacaf Champions League defeat, Josh Saunders, receiving only US$66,355 a year.
Galaxy's investment in a few highly-paid stars may be paying off as they have become the first team to clinch a place in the playoffs.
Beckham is having one of his better seasons, scoring twice and creating 12 goals (the league's second highest assist tally).
His profile remains high - last night he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
However, Seattle Sounders' US$42,000 a year for Mauro Rosales looks to be better value.
The Argentine has scored four goals and made seven with the Sounders on course for the play-offs and a place in the later stages of the Champions League.
- THE INDEPENDENT