By 90Min
October 24, 2018

Ex-Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney has been confirmed as the ninth highest paid player in MLS this season after joining D.C. United during the summer, while former teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn't even crack the top 20.

Major League Soccer's players union release an annual list of player salaries for transparency. The 2018 details were originally published in May, but an updated version including Rooney for the first time has now also been made available as the league campaign nears its conclusion.

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Rooney, who celebrates his 33rd birthday today (24th October) took a sizeable pay cut to prolong his career in a new chapter stateside after leaving boyhood club Everton and is currently on a deal worth $2.8m (£2.17m) per season, including all guaranteed bonuses.

His impact on a struggling D.C. United team has been nothing short of incredible, with his 12 goals, six assists and generally top performances in 19 games since arriving in the capital taking the franchise from rock bottom of the Eastern Conference to a playoff place. 

The league's highest paid player is Toronto FC star Sebastian Giovinco, earning a total annual salary of $7.1m (£5.5m). His base pay is actually lower than several other top earners, but guaranteed bonuses put the Italian, whose team has had a very poor 2018 season after winning the MLS Cup last year, top of the wages pile.

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Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley, once briefly of Aston Villa, pockets $6.5m, while Carlos Vela (LA FC), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire) and Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy) are the others who are taking home in excess of $6m for the season.

2010 World Cup winner David Villa, former Hull and Sunderland forward Jozy Altidore and Tim Howard also make up the top 10 MLS earners. Montreal Impact star Ignacio Piatti is the only name among the top 10 that will be unfamiliar to most football fans in Europe.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on a contract worth only $1.5m (£1.2m) at LA Galaxy, an amount not dissimilar to what it is thought he would have earned in a month at Manchester United, effectively proving to cynics that the Swede did not move to North America for a big payday.

His wages are so low as Galaxy's 'Designated Player' berths, the rule allowing players to be paid beyond the usual constraints of the salary cap, are occupied by Giovani dos Santos, Jonathan dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini. Galaxy's Ashley Cole is earning $722,500 (£619,000).

This season's standout team has been Atlanta United. Star forward Josef Martinez broke the single season MLS goalscoring record several weeks ago and is currently on 30 for the campaign - the Venezuelan is earning $1.4m (£1.1m), while teammate and rumoured Arsenal target Miguel Almiron has a contract worth $2.3m (£1.8m).

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There is a vast range between the top earners in MLS squad and the bottom earners, with the lowest annual player salaries in the league coming in at just $54,499 (£42,200).

The 20 Highest Paid MLS Players in 2018  (inc. all guaranteed bonuses):

Player Club Total Compensation
Sebastian Giovnco Toronto FC $7,115,555
Michael Bradley Toronto FC $6,500,000
Carlos Vela LA FC $6,292,500
Bastian Schweinsteiger Chicago Fire $6,100,000
Giovani dos Santos LA Galaxy $6,000,000
David Villa New York City FC $5,610,000
Jozy Altidore Toronto FC $5,000,000
Ignacio Piatti Montreal Impact $4,713,333
Wayne Rooney D.C. United $2,776,730
Tim Howard Colorado Rapids $2,475,000
Diego Valeri Portland Timbers $2,380,000
Nicolas Lodeiro Seattle Sounders $2,302,500
Miguel Almiron Atlanta United $2,297,000
Yura Movsisyan Chicago Fire $2,073,750
Raul Ruidiaz Seattle Sounders $2,000,004
Jonathan dos Santos LA Galaxy $2,000,000
Maxi Moralez New York City FC $2,000,000
Fanendo Adi FC Cincinnati $1,933,333
Nemanja Nikolic Chicago Fire $1,906,333
Romain Alessandrini LA Galaxy $1,869,996

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