Highest Paid EPL Players for the 2021-22 Season – Ronaldo, Grealish, and Others

| October 17, 2021 2:00 pm PST
Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Jack Grealish

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United has completely changed the face of the Premier League salary rankings for the 2021-22 season.

But is the Portuguese megastar the highest paid player in EPL?

Gareth Bale topped the EPL salary charts last season, earning a cool £600,000 a week! But following his return to Real Madrid, the biggest salary in the Premier League now belongs to someone else.

With stars like Kevin De Bruyne, Jadon Sancho, and Romelu Lukaku taking home upwards of £300,000 every week, the numbers are frightening!

Without further ado, let’s go through the highest paid EPL players in the 2021-22 season.

10. Paul Pogba – Manchester United

  • Annual Salary: £15,080,000

It’s fair to say that Paul Pogba has divided opinion ever since his Old Trafford comeback in 2016.

The enigmatic Frenchman left Man Utd in 2012, with Sir Alex Ferguson allowing him to join Italian giant Juventus. Four years later, however, he returned to Man Utd for a world record transfer fee of £89.3 million.

Pogba’s somewhat lazy playing style often leads to criticism, but when he is at the top of his game, there are very few midfielders in world soccer who can match his quality.

The 28-year-old kicked off the 2021-22 campaign with four assists in a single game against Leeds United, underlining his talent. He then registered three assists across his next three outings, taking his tally to seven assists in just four games.

When Pogba performs to the best of his ability, few would argue that he doesn’t deserve to be one of the highest paid players in the English Premier League.

9. N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

  • Annual Salary: £15,080,000
N'Golo Kante

While Pogba’s dedication is sometimes called into question, there is absolutely no doubting N’Golo Kante’s commitment to the cause. In fact, I think every single manager in the game would want Kante on their side.

Best known for his relentless work rate and unrivaled tackling ability, the World Cup winner has established himself as the best defensive midfielder on the planet over the past few years.

But he hasn’t always been one of the highest paid EPL players.

Kante was playing in France’s second division when Leicester City signed him for just £5.6m in 2015. A year later, he helped the Foxes to win that famous Premier League title before moving to Chelsea for £32m.

He then secured back-to-back EPL triumphs with the Blues and has since won the FA Cup, World Cup, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Super Cup, along with a host of individual accolades.

In today’s crazy climate, it could be argued that Kante is underpaid!

8. Raheem Sterling – Manchester City

  • Annual Salary: £15,600,000

Raheem Sterling’s annual salary of £15,600,000 meant that he was the fourth-highest paid player in the Premier League last season. Following a flurry of transfer activity, he now finds himself eighth on the list.

He can’t exactly have any complaints, though, as he literally pockets around £300,000 per week!

The English winger has won eight trophies with Manchester City since joining the club in 2015, including three EPL titles. He has also helped the Cityzens to win four EFL Cups and an FA Cup along the way.

When he arrived at the Etihad Stadium as a youngster, he was still a raw talent. Over the past few years, Pep Guardiola has molded him into one of the deadliest forwards on the planet.

The arrival of Jack Grealish (more on him in a second) has seen Sterling fall down the pecking order at Man City. Still, he is one of the highest paid Premier League players for a reason.

7. Jack Grealish – Manchester City

  • Annual Salary: £15,600,000

When Man City paid Aston Villa £100m for Grealish in August 2021, he became the most expensive English player of all time. Naturally, he now boasts one of the biggest salaries in the EPL.

Player From To Fee
Jack Grealish Aston Villa Manchester City £100m
Harry Maguire Leicester City Manchester United £80m
Jadon Sancho Borussia Dortmund Manchester United £73m

In fairness to Grealish, he could have left Villa a long time ago, meaning he would have almost certainly earned more. Yet, he stayed loyal to his boyhood club and remained at Villa Park a lot longer than expected.

Now 26, Grealish finally belongs to an elite club – and he now has a salary that his performances warrant.

Believe it or not, Grealish isn’t Man City’s top earner. If you know a thing or two about soccer, you can probably guess which player has the biggest salary at Man City.

6. Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea

  • Annual Salary: £16,900,000

There was a time when many soccer fans doubted Romelu Lukaku. He was often criticized for having a heavy first touch, which meant he struggled to settle at a club for more than a couple of years.

Chelsea originally signed the Belgian striker from Anderlecht in 2011, but he struggled to break into the first team – playing just ten league games in three seasons for the Blues.

Following loan spells at West Bromwich Albion and Everton, Lukaku teamed up with the Toffees on a permanent basis in 2014 before moving to Man Utd in 2017.

Romelu Lukaku’s Transfer Fees
  • 2011: Chelsea (£13.5m)
  • 2014: Everton (£31.8m)
  • 2017: Manchester United (£76.2m)
  • 2019: Inter Milan (£66.6m)
  • 2021: Chelsea (£103.5m)

He then signed for Inter Milan in 2019 and went on to net 64 goals in 95 games for the Italian giant. Having fired Inter to the 2020-21 Scudetto – and been named Serie A’s MVP – Lukaku returned to Chelsea and is now the club’s top earner.

Having come full circle, it finally feels like Lukaku is getting the respect that he deserves. Well, he is certainly getting paid enough, anyway!

5. Raphael Varane – Manchester United

  • Annual Salary: £17,680,000
Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane has won just about everything there is to win as an elite soccer player.

During his time at Real Madrid, the lauded center-back won four Champions League trophies, four FIFA Club World Cups, three La Liga titles, three UEFA Super Cups, and numerous other domestic honors in the process.

Oh, and let’s not forget that he won the World Cup with France back in 2018.

Given his glittering résumé, it seems crazy that Man Utd was able to sign Varane for just £36m in August 2021. But when you consider his mammoth £17,680,000 annual salary, the Red Devils didn’t get a bargain by any stretch of the imagination.

Reportedly, Varane was on a £10,244,000 salary at Real Madrid. No wonder he made the move to Man Utd!

4. Jadon Sancho – Manchester United

  • Annual Salary: £18,200,000

It felt like the “Jadon Sancho to Manchester United” saga went on for ages, didn’t it? The Red Devils attempted to lure the 21-year-old to Old Trafford on multiple occasions before finally getting their man in July 2021.

Man Utd paid Borussia Dortmund around £73m to acquire Sancho’s services. The club also handed Sancho an annual salary of £18,200,000, making him one of the highest paid players in the EPL.

Although the tricky winger hasn’t exactly hit the ground running in the Premier League, he boasts more than enough talent to become one of the division’s top performers for years to come.

I mean, you only have to look at his Dortmund record – 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 appearances – to understand why Man Utd pays him so much.

You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Sancho is also among the most valuable soccer players in the world.

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3. David De Gea – Manchester United

  • Annual Salary: £19,500,000

David De Gea is the only goalkeeper among the top ten highest paid EPL players for the 2021-22 season. That tells you everything you need to know about his ability.

The Spanish shot-stopper has been written off time and again at Old Trafford, but every single time he gets knocked down, he gets back up and comes back stronger.

De Gea signed for Man Utd over a decade ago, joining from Atletico Madrid. He has since made over 450 appearances for the club, achieving more than 150 shutouts in the process.

Season Games Shutouts
2020-21 26 9
2019-20 38 13
2018-19 38 7
2017-18 37 18
2016-17 35 14

It is easy to forget that De Gea is still just 30 years old. Of course, that is by no means young for a professional soccer player. But goalkeepers tend to enjoy their best years in their early to mid-30s, meaning he could get even better!

Prior to the start of last season, the Spaniard signed a four-year contract renewal. He may have been the highest paid player in the Premier League at that time, but he isn’t anymore.

2. Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

  • Annual Salary: £20,800,000

In April 2021, Kevin De Bruyne signed a new four-year contract with Man City – increasing his annual salary by 30%. The midfield maestro was already earning more than £16m a year; he now takes home £20,800,000.

Following his move from German side Wolfsburg in 2015, De Bruyne has signed not one, but two contract extensions with the Cityzens.

It is difficult to get your head around EPL player salaries, especially when you don’t know how clubs operate behind the scenes.  But when you look at De Bruyne’s on-field performances, it isn’t difficult to understand why City pays him so much.

The two-time PFA Players’ Player of the Year has helped Man City to clinch three Premier League titles and seven other trophies during his time at the club. He has also picked up countless individual honors along the way.

Even with a £20m+ annual salary, De Bruyne isn’t the highest paid Premier League player in 2021-22.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United

  • Annual Salary: £26,520,000
Cristiano Ronaldo

That’s right, you guessed it – Cristiano Ronaldo is officially the biggest earner in the EPL.

Pocketing a whopping £26,520,000 annual salary (£385,000 per week), CR7 earns far more than any other Premier League player in 2021-22.

Alongside Lionel Messi, Ronaldo is the greatest player of his generation – and perhaps all time! The iconic forward has won almost 30 club trophies across his phenomenal career, as well as five Ballon d’Ors.

Although he may not have enjoyed his best seasons in recent years, Ronaldo offers so much to Man Utd both on and off the pitch. He still scores goals at a frightening rate, while his off-field brand generates huge revenue.

Even at the ripe old age of 36, Ronaldo is the highest paid player in the English Premier League.

Breaking Down the EPL’s Biggest Earners

Interestingly, only three clubs are represented on this list – Man Utd, Man City, and Chelsea. That tells you everything you need to know about the wealth of those clubs.

Clubs of the Top Ten Biggest Earners in the EPL (2021-22)
  • Manchester United: 5
  • Manchester City: 3
  • Chelsea: 2

It is also worth noting that four of the top five are Man Utd players. Ronaldo is, of course, the highest paid Premier League player, but De Gea (#3), Sancho (#4), and Varane (#5) also feature in the top five.

De Bruyne (#2), Grealish (#7), and Sterling (#8) represent Man City, while Lukaku (#6) and Kante (#9) represent Chelsea.

With no plans to introduce a salary cap to the Premier League, EPL player salaries are only going to get bigger. Ronaldo’s annual salary is a staggering £26,520,000, but that will likely be eclipsed in the coming years.

Although Major League Soccer cannot compete with the Premier League on a financial level, North America’s top-flight division still boasts some big earners.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you check out the highest paid MLS players for the 2021 season.

Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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