There is no denying that soccer around the world has become a big business. Over the years, we have seen some of the richest billionaires in the world spend exorbitant amounts of money in order to improve their clubs.
However, the spending does not always work out, and there are a number of players out there that are not living up to their high salaries. Of course, certain players are able to compensate for diminishing skills on the field with an increased marketing presence (i.e. David Beckham, Ronaldinho, etc.), but others are not so lucky.
So, using Marca's list of top salaries, we’ve made a list (in no particular order) of the seven most overpaid players in world football.
There is really no debate about Samuel Eto’o being overpaid. Eto’o scored 37 goals for Inter in 2011 and played a major role in the team’s 2010 UEFA Champions League run. He was then rewarded with a €22.3 million per season contract with Anzhi Makhachkala, a club owned by billionaire oil tycoon Suleyman Kerimov.
But life isn’t all great for Eto’o. His current club is located in Dagestan, a region so rife with violence that Eto’o must live in Moscow and fly in for matches.
Reportedly 100 police officers are killed on an annual basis, and there is a 40% unemployment rate. On the field, Eto’o has done fine, scoring 14 goals in 30 appearances, but the 32-year-old likely couldn’t put those numbers up in a major European league.
The attacking midfielder for Guangzhou Evergrande is another example of an upstart club looking to buy victories. Although Conca does not have the brand name that would bring exposure to the club, he came to Guangzhou as the reigning Player of the Year with Fluminense in Brazil.
For now though, he remains in China and will help Guangzhou Evergrande defend its 2012 title when the new season begins in March.
Lampard was at the peak of his prowess in 2008, and after being tempted by AC Milan, Chelsea gave him a record contract in order to keep him.
The move was worth it at the time, as Chelsea went on to win the ‘double’ in ‘09-’10, along with a Champions League trophy last season, but at 34-years-old it’s clear that the club can no longer justify his salary.
After winning a league title, an FA Cup and a Champions League trophy, it seems as though Lampard’s motivation now lies with the national team. He is just six caps short of 100 and is just two goals away from cracking England’s top-ten goalscorers (27 so far).
His decision on where to play next season will depend heavily on his international ambitions.
Kaka was the first new ‘Galactico’ that Florentino Perez brought in after resuming Real Madrid's presidency. He paid roughly €65 million to get the 2007 Ballon d’Or from Milan.
But the move has turned out to be a massive disappointment with injuries and a continual influx of star players pushing Kaka further down the depth chart.
This season, Kaka has managed to start just six of Madrid’s 46 matches this season, and manager Jose Mourinho has preferred to use Mesut Ozil in all of their key matches.
At 30-years-old, Kaka still has some good years left, but he will not come close to garnering another €65 million transfer fee and, at times, was even rumored by the Mirror to be given away for free.
Fernando Torres is probably the best example of, "careful what you wish for" when joining up with other superstars on a big club.
After three-and-a-half productive seasons with Liverpool, Torres left the Reds on a record €58.4 million transfer to Chelsea and has never been the same since.
Prone to dips in confidence, which is a career killer for strikers, Torres has been overshadowed by Chelsea's other attacking options from day one. At the time of the signing, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger even chimed in on the move, wondering aloud how Torres would fit in with Drogba and Anelka still in the lineup.
Reuniting with former boss Rafa Benitez has not rejuvenated Torres, and he is quickly becoming a lightning rod for any of Chelsea's struggles.
Probably the most debatable player on this list, Wayne Rooney may just appear to be overpaid because he finally has another world-class striker to play off of. But because of Rooney’s dramatic intention to leave United just two seasons ago, many are quick to turn on him with any sort of dip in form.
Despite being injured early in the season, Rooney has still managed to score 12 goals, and Manchester United are comfortably 15 points ahead of their cross-town rival in the Premier League title race.
But Rooney is 27 now and is known for an aggressive, dogged style that can put extra miles on a player that has started 472 matches over the last 10 seasons.
Another player nearing the end of a long-term contract, Terry is designated to make roughly €205,000 per week through the end of the ’13-’14 season.
Yet despite Terry’s age, and the emergence of other central defenders like Gary Cahill, Chelsea still seems set to offer the club legend an extension into the 2015 season.
With 10 appearances so far this season, Terry serves as a great platoon defender for a club that is always challenging for multiple trophies. But he has never been the fleetest of foot, and as he approaches 33 years old, Terry will need to rely on his instincts more than ever in order to justify his salary going forward.