With the Premier League getting richer than ever, we look at some of the most notorious players over recent years who’ve earned a nice living largely sitting on the bench.
In recent decades, football has become increasingly wealthy. The Premier League, in particular, has benefited hugely from an influx of money from television rights deals. This money has filtered through to players, which means that now even squad players can earn tens of thousands of pounds a week.
Inevitably, given the nature of football and the soaring wages, there are now players at many a top club that remain on the bench game after game while continuing to earn an absolute fortune. Such players fall out of favour for various reasons, ranging from injury to loss of form to a change of manager, but their high wages often makes them hard to move on, meaning their clubs are left paying them a packet to do nothing, much to the frustration of supporters.
Since the formation of the Premier League, there are stacks of players who earned huge money while not playing, and it’s a plague that refuses to go away.
Clubs in the top flight assemble bulging squads and sometimes two players for each position, so it’s little surprise to see semi-decent professionals sitting on big wages for doing the square root of jack all.
At one stage the Moroccan international was paid £65,000 a while languishing in at Queens Park Rangers’ reserve and youth teams. Then-manager Harry Redknapp said Taarabt was the worst professional footballer he had ever worked with.
Taarabt started well at QPR, helping the club win promotion to the Premier League in the 2010-2011 season – his first full season there – but he had already forged a reputation for falling out with almost everyone. By the 2014-15 season, he was a bit-part player, making just seven appearances. Taarabt left QPR that summer, and now finds himself at Benfica B, the reserve side of the current Portuguese champions.
The Dutchman has a reputation as a money-grabbing benchwarmer that few players can match. Signed by Chelsea in 2000, the former Ajax and Barcelona defender was not a favourite of any of the managers he played under at the London club.
As a result, he spent much of his time watching rather than playing, making just nine league appearances in four years. However, being on the bench did not seem to bother the Dutch international, who admitted that he was more than happy to collect a reported £40,0000 a week for doing so, suggesting he would be crazy to throw away money he felt was his.
The Colombia striker, once spoken of in the same breath as players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, scored an incredible 70 goals in just two seasons for Atlético Madrid between 2011 and 2013, earning a lucrative move to Monaco.
However, after a severe anterior cruciate ligament injury at the start of 2014, Falcao was loaned to Manchester United for the 2015-15 season, in a deal which saw him earn £265,000 a week. Falcao scored just four times for the Red Devils, and made only 17 starts in all competitions, and the club chose not to exercise their right to buy him.
Last season saw him struggled similarly on loan at Chelsea, where he scored just once and made only two starts in all competitions.
While player wages are a source of frustration for some supporters, but with the amount on money in football, and the modern game requiring top clubs to have sizable squads, it is inevitable there will be players earning eye-watering wages while warming the bench.