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Chicago's Xherdan Shaqiri tops Major League Salary list at US$8.153 million

Swiss star midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who joined the Chicago Fire in February from France's Lyon, tops the Major League Soccer salary list at US$8.153 million in 2022, according to figures released Tuesday by the MLS Players Association.
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Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri, right, attempts to score in front of Kosovo's Blendi Idrizi during the international friendly soccer match between Switzerland and Kosovo at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich, Switzerland, Tuesday March 29, 2022. The Swiss star Shaqiri, who joined the Chicago Fire in February, tops the Major League Soccer salary list at US$8.153 million in 2022, according to figures released Tuesday by the MLS Players Association. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Buholzer-Keystone via AP

Swiss star midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who joined the Chicago Fire in February from France's Lyon, tops the Major League Soccer salary list at US$8.153 million in 2022, according to figures released Tuesday by the MLS Players Association.

Toronto FC's Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo ranks No. 4 at $4.693 million, one of five TFC players making $1 million-plus — six if you include forward Jose Altidore whose $4.265 million ranks fifth in the league.

Toronto bought out Altidore's contract in February, one day before he joined the New England Revolution. At the time, New England noted Toronto "will remain responsible for a portion" of Altidore's salary through 2023, which covers the term of his TFC contact.

Essentially the two teams are sharing his cost this season and next, with Toronto paying what he was owed on his existing deal minus the portion of his New England salary.

Toronto is paying Mexican defender Carlos Salcedo $2.351 million, captain Michael Bradley $1.5 million, French-born Congolese defender Chris Mavinga $1.038 million and Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio $1.026 million.

Salcedo is the league's highest-paid defender while Mavinga ranks 11th. Toronto's defence, which like the rest of the roster has been rebuilt under new coach Bob Bradley, ranks 25th in the league, conceding 1.92 goals a game on average.

Jesus Jimenez is a Toronto bargain at $934,927. The Spanish striker is tied for second in league scoring with Austin's Sebastian Driussi ($2.317 million) and San Jose's Jeremy Ebobisse ($766,617) at seven goals. FC Dallas's Jesus Ferreira ($1.499 million) leads with nine goals.

At the other end of the Toronto pay scale, 21-year-old rookie wingback/midfielder Luca Petrasso is earning $65,500.

Captain Victor Wanyama, a Kenyan midfielder tops CF Montreal players at $3.092 million, good for 15th on the league list, with Norwegian forward Bjorn Johnsen at $1.237 million.

Scottish midfielder Ryan Gauld is the highest-paid Vancouver player at $2.265 million, 23rd on the league list. Canadian forward Lucas Cavallini is the next highest-paid Whitecap at $1.463 million.

Mexican forward Javier Hernandez of the Los Angeles Galaxy is No. 2 on the salary list at $6 million, followed by Inter Miami's Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain at $5.794 million.

Shaqiri, who is fluent in Albanian, English, German, French and Italian, has also played for FC Basel, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Stoke City and Liverpool. The 30-year-old has won 102 caps for Switzerland.

Canadian international midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye makes $700,000 with the Colorado Rapids.

The numbers released by the MLSPA cover the 841 players under contract as of April 15.

The association says the average base salary for senior roster non-designated players was $438,728 in 2022, up from $397,753 in 2021.

But in many ways, MLS remains a league of haves and have-nots.

There are 91 players making $1 million or more — including 16 who earn $3 million or above — and 263 who earn less than $100,000. 

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press