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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Serie A Value XI: The Best Underpaid Players in Italian Football

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Lautaro Martinez
Martinez receives only €2.5m per year at Inter | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

I don’t mean to alarm you, reader, but Cristiano Ronaldo earns €31m a year. €31m. Thirty-one. Million.

That is a lot of money. Now, before you start angrily calling me a h8r on Twitter and telling me Ronaldo is better than Lionel Messi etc, just hear me out. That is simply too much money. No man deserves that quantity of money for the job he does, especially when no one else earns anywhere near the cash he brings home.

In fact, the Portuguese forward is paid four and a half times more than any other player on his team. Does he possess four and a half times more talent and influence than, say, Paulo Dybala?

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It’s football gone mad. And it got us thinking, could we assemble an entire starting lineup capable of winning Serie A, with a combined annual salary lower than Ronaldo’s €31m?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is below for you to check out.

Gianluigi Buffon (GK) – €1.5m

FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-LYON
The old man has still got it | MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Alright, he’s getting on a bit, and there may be better options for similar prices, but you can’t not put the old man between the sticks, right? Gianluigi Buffon is a football legend, and for the measly price of €1.5m a year, he’s bringing a whole wealth of experience to your backline. In you come, Gigi.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo (RWB) – €2.3m

Giovanni Di Lorenzo
Di Lorenzo has been a solid addition in the Napoli defence | Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

One of the tougher positions to fill (any FIFA player will tell you that the right-back options in Serie A are rubbish). Luckily, one man who is not great on your nearest console, but is pretty decent in real life is Giovanni Di Lorenzo. Full of energy, pace and attacking desire, this wing-back will run all day long.

Alessandro Bastoni (CB) – €1.5m

Alessandro Bastoni
Bastoni ousted the experienced Diego Godin with his confident displays last year | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

WHAT A BARGAIN! Unbelievably, Alessandro Bastoni is Inter’s joint-worst paid outfield player. This is a guy who was their best centre-back last season. Only 21 years old, he’s destined to be a Serie A regular for years to come. I think he’ll be knocking on Antonio Conte’s door after seeing their wage bill, too. Time for a pay rise.

Marash Kumbulla (CB) – €1.8m

Marash Kumbulla
Kumbulla has immediately caught the eye since joining AS Roma this summer | Silvia Lore/Getty Images

What a good piece of business from Roma. Marash Kumbulla joined I Giallorossi from Hellas Verona in the summer, and he already looks the part after only four games. Still only a young boy, his new employers were able to secure his services for a measly €1.8m a year – a bargain in the long run. Straight into our defence.

Milan Skriniar (CB) – €3m

Milan Skriniar
One of the higher earners in this team, but still an absolute snip | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

At €3m per annum, this guy is our galactico. Milan Skriniar has proven himself to be one of the best centre-backs in European football during his time at Inter, and his exploits have even caught the eye of the Premier League’s behemoths. The defender may not have clinched his big-money move to Tottenham Hotspur this time round, but patience – it will come.

Theo Hernandez (LWB) – €1.5m

Theo Hernandez
An outstanding left-back | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Theo Hernandez is a rockstar, disguised as a footballer at the weekends. The Milan man is full blown pedal to the metal, and for 90 minutes a week, he destroys everything in his path. An explosive left-back with blistering pace, an eye for goal and a love of a fiery recovery tackle, there is literally nothing to hate about this guy.

Midfielders

Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – €2.5m

Rodrigo Bentancur
Bentancur has caught the eye for Juventus | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

One of the only Juventus midfielders to come out of last season with any credit. Rodrigo Bentancur broke into the Bianconeri team last year, and was, without doubt, the star of the show. Ultimately, his performances weren’t always enough to save his team from a drab display, but he’s got some real talent in those boots. And at €2.5m, he’ll absolutely do nicely for us.

Fabian Ruiz (CM) – €1.5m

SSC Napoli v Genoa CFC - Serie A
Ruiz is an incredibly talented midfielder | MB Media/Getty Images

A classy operator. Fabian Ruiz possesses a glossy left foot, and he is simply a joy to watch when in the mood. The Spaniard chose Napoli to get some serious game time, and having done so, he’ll be keen to get a boost on his current €1.5m salary. Europe’s heavyweights are circling…

Nicolo Zaniolo (CM) – €2.5m

Nicolo Zaniolo
Zaniolo has been extremely unfortunate with injuries in the past 12 months | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

The unluckiest footballer in Serie A, and the cause of this particular writer’s severely broken heart. Having just recovered from a nasty ACL injury he had suffered at the start of 2020, Nicolo Zaniolo succumbed to the same fate on recent international duty, this time to his other knee. He’ll be back though, and there should be no doubts that he’ll return stronger than ever. We hope.

Dejan Kulusevski (ST) – €2.5m

A star in the making
A star in the making | Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Okay, so he’s not a conventional striker, but if it’s good enough for Andrea Pirlo, it’s good enough for me. Dejan Kulusevski joined Juventus officially in the summer, and he demonstrated exactly what he’s about with his debut goal against Sampdoria. Put him on that magic left foot, and watch him fly. A seriously exciting prospect.

Lautaro Martinez (ST) – €2.5m

Lautaro Martinez
The most underpaid player in Europe? | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

You simply cannot believe it, can you? Lautaro Martinez, one of the most complete strikers in the world, is paid only €2.5m a year. To put that into context, he’s on the same money as Benevento’s defender Kamil Glik. As a major inspiration behind this list, we can only thank you, Lautaro, and pray you get the pay rise you so desperately deserve. You can get 12.4 Lautaro’s for the price of one Ronaldo, by the way.

Total Spend: €23.1m a year

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