Shaqiri edges Chicharito as MLS' top-paid

Published on: 17 May 2022

Chicago Fire FC's Xherdan Shaqiri is Major League Soccer's highest-paid player with a guaranteed compensation of $8.15 million, according to salary data published Tuesday by the MLS Players Association.

Shaqiri beat Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez of the LA Galaxy for the top spot, with the Mexico international guaranteed $6m. Inter Miami's Gonzalo Higuain ($5.79m), Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo ($4.69m), the New England Revolution's Jozy Altidore ($4.26m), Atlanta United's Josef Martinez ($4.14m) and LAFC's Carlos Vela ($4.05m) -- the highest paid player this time a year ago -- rounded out the top six earners.

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All data is as of April 15, 2022, so it doesn't include already announced acquisitions -- such as Toronto FC's signing of forward Lorenzo Insigne from Napoli -- that will arrive when the summer transfer window opens on July 7.

The MLSPA said the average base salary for senior roster non-Designated Players increased from $397,753 in 2021 to $438,728 in 2022, an increase of 10.3 percent. This figure doesn't include players making the senior minimum ($84,000) or reserve minimum ($65,500) salaries.

The average guaranteed base compensation for the entire player pool is $472,008 up 11.5 percent from the May, 2021 mark of $423,232. The salaries of players at the bottom of the wage scale continues to improve, as the league's median guaranteed base compensation was $248,333, up 18.25 percent from the May 2021 mark of $210,000.

New MLS arrival Xherdan Shaqiri of the Chicago Fire is the highest-paid player in MLS. USA Today Images

MLS and the MLSPA are in the second year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that was agreed upon in February of last year. That deal was the third such agreement in roughly a year due to MLS invoking a force majeure clause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current CBA runs through the end of the 2027 season.

In terms of team payroll based on guaranteed base compensation, Atlanta United's is the highest at $21m, with the LA Galaxy ($20.13m), Inter Miami CF ($18.88m), the New England Revolution ($18.14m) and Chicago ($17.65m) completing the top five. Real Salt Lake ($10.48m) had the lowest payroll, followed by expansion side Charlotte FC ($10.71m), the Portland Timbers ($11.31m), the Colorado Rapids ($11.39m) and Orlando City ($11.51m).

It's worth noting that New England's numbers are inflated because Altidore's previous club, Toronto, is paying a portion of the player's salary after the Reds used their one-time buyout of a guaranteed contract on him last February.

The Seattle Sounders FC -- recently crowned winners of the CONCACAF Champions League -- ranked sixth at $16.98m, while reigning MLS Cup champions New York City FC were seventh at $15.54m.