Interest money

Players “who followed the money” XI

One of the richest sports stars on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo has more money than most of us would probably know how to do with in five lifetimes.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner according to Forbes’ 2022 World’s Highest-Paid Athletes Earnings List earned $115m (£97.5m) last yearswelling his overall net worth at a colossal $500 million (£424 million).

Currently, Ronaldo is the third highest paid sportsman in the world. However, according to reports, the 37-year-old recently received an offer from an unknown Saudi club which would place him at the top of the tree by a considerable margin.

Despite still having a year to complete his contract with Manchester United, Ronaldo told club chiefs last month that he wanted to leave Old Trafford this summer.

Seemingly with a view to joining one of Europe’s elite, Ronaldo has received little serious interest from the world’s top teams.

While Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Chelsea may have passed on his services, a Saudi club would be willing to pay Ronaldo £211m over two seasons if he joins their ranks.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 11: Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

If the figures reported by CNN Portugal are correct, Ronaldo is said to be in line to pocket £2m every week, far exceeding the salary of any other sports personality.

The Manchester United man is yet to comment on the dizzying offer. Whether Ronaldo would give up European football for the Saudi Professional League seems doubtful considering it would effectively end his career at the top level of the game.

That said, we’re talking crazy money here – and several players over the years have gone for the money over the competition.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a full XI of players who have cashed in when offered a lucrative offer abroad.

An XI of stars who ‘followed the money’

GK: Gordon Banks (Fort Lauderdale Strikers)

England’s 1966 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Banks was effectively retired by doctors after losing his right eye in a car crash in 1972.

About five years later, however, he was tempted out of retirement by a substantial offer to play in the North American Soccer League.

Always professional, Banks performed admirably in Florida. He was even voted goalkeeper of the year by the league in his first season.

DC: Toby Alderweireld (Al-Duhail SC)

The Belgian defender raised many eyebrows when he left Tottenham to play in Qatar last summer. His stay at Al Duhail only lasted a year, during which time he received a salary of £4million (by

It’s not Ronaldo’s money by any means, but it’s not a bad job if you can get it. Alderweireld have made an emotional return to their hometown club Royal Antwerp last weeksignificantly richer for his stay in Qatar.

Toby Alderweireld
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JUNE 16: Toby Alderweireld of Belgium reacts during the Belgium training session ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group B match between Denmark and Belgium at Parken Stadium on June 16, 2021 in Copenhagen, UK Denmark. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

CD: Chris Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala)

We will never forget the wonderfully crazy Anzhi spending spree between 2011 and 2013which saw Samba sign twice for the Maverick outfit.

First persuaded to join the Russian Premier League in February 2012 on a £100,000-a-week deal, Samba was on the move again when Queens Park Rangers called.

Shortly after the Hoops were relegated from the Premier League, Anzhi brought Samba back to the club. We can’t imagine that he took much pay cut from his initial salary.

CB: Roberto Carlos (Anzhi Makhachkala)

Legendary Brazilian left-back Carlos had a £1million Bugatti Veyron waiting for him as a signing bonus when he landed in Russia. Just another example of Anzhi’s insane spending problem.

Robert Carlos at Anzhi
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – AUGUST 14: Roberto Carlos of FC Anzhi Makhachkala in action during the Russian Football League Championship match between FC Spartak Moscow and FC Anzhi Makhachkala at Luzhniki Stadium on August 14, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Dmitry Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images)

GM: Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)

Anzhi was a unique club that liked to spend lavishly. Until a spending cap was introduced in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Super League was an entire competition of big spenders.

The huge sums of money available in the Far East have attracted some of the best players in the world, including Witsel.

Bank reported salary of over £15m a yearWitsel was brutally honest about the motivation behind his move to China.

He called his exceptional contract “a crucial offer for my family that I could not refuse”.

CM: Oscar (Shanghai SIPG)

A two-time Premier League winner with Chelsea, Oscar swapped west London for China’s biggest city in 2017 – and won £25m per year In the process.

The 30-year-old remains with the club to this day.

Oscar at Chelsea
LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 13: Oscar of Chelsea reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge on January 13, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

LW: Alex Teixeira (Jiangsu Suning)

Jiangsu beat Liverpool to the signing of Teixeira in early 2016, showing the financial might of the CSL at the time. The Brazilian was paid £200,000 a week, spending five years with the club.

RW: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang)

After his £27m move from Atletico Madrid in 2018, Carrasco cashed in up to £180,000 per week. How comforting that money was when his new side lost 8-0 on their debut, however, we don’t know now.

He was back at Atletico within two years.

SS: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

The world’s most expensive player after his £198million move from Barcelona in 2017, Neymar has signed a deal that sees him win a massive £40.8m year in Paris – more than teammate Lionel Messi.

Neymar could be away this summer but will do well to match his current salary elsewhere.

PARIS, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 15: Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain reacts during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid at Parc des Princes on February 15, 2022 in Paris, France . (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

SS: Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebei China Fortune)

Highest-paid player in CSL history at one outrageous £798,000 a weekLavezzi traveled to China after leaving PSG in 2016.

He stayed at the club for four seasons, accumulating money at an astonishing rate. He retired in 2019, having scored 35 goals in 75 games.

FC: Carlos Tevez (Shanghai Shenhua)

Tevez was not a fan of his time in China, later admitting: “I was on vacation for seven months. When I landed in China, I wanted to go back to Boca.

He disliked the food, insulted the level of local players and irritated fans by taking a trip to Disneyland when he was supposedly injured.

However, Tevez banked a fortune during his “holiday.” According to the Daily Mailhe had a £650,000-a-week contract in the Far East – a total of £34million since his spell.

Players who have lucrative overseas deals XI

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