Ibrahimovic sets MLS record with 2019 salary

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Katharine Lotze
The forward's decision to stay in the United States is paying off, with his second-year salary the highest ever earned by an MLS player

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 2019 salary of $7.2 million (£5.7m) is a new MLS record, usurping the $7.1m paid to Sebastian Giovinco in 2017 and 2018. 

The Swedish star, 37, joined the LA Galaxy from Manchester United last year with his 2019 salary a huge increase on the $1.5m he was paid during his first year and sees him move to the top of the pile in terms of wages in the division, according to the MLS Players Association's (MLSPA) salary guide. 

The rise in pay should not come as any shock, with the forward having made a remarkable impact, scoring 33 MLS goals in 39 appearances. 

While Ibrahimovic being top of the pile should come as little shock, given the cut-price deal he signed during his first year with the league, the second name on the list is surprising.  

Giovani dos Santos, a teammate of Ibrahimovic's until his March release, is still set to be paid $6.5m in total compensation, leaving him level with USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley as the second-highest paid player in the league.  

While some of the salary numbers will certainly draw criticism, the MLSPA’s release of data points to positive trends for players in the league.  

The average salary for senior roster non-designated players increased 13.3 per cent to $345,867 and is up over 150 per cent from $138,140 in 2014. 

“We are encouraged by the continued salary growth that has occurred over each of the last five years. As the League grows and revenues increase, it’s critical that we see this kind of continued investment in player compensation up and down the roster,” said MLSPA Executive Director Bob Foose.  

“Players are the heart of MLS, and if MLS is to become the league of choice that it aspires to be, it needs to keep pace in an increasingly competitive market for players, both domestic and international. We feel good about these trends, and we expect to see them continue.” 

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The data also points to a steady growth of over 10 per cent per year in salary for players 10-18 on the roster over the course of the last half-decade, and Foose is of the belief that the MLSPA’s decision to make the data public is helping continue the growth of salaries across the league.  

“As I have believed from the beginning when the Players Association fought to make this data public, access to salary information benefits players through added transparency in the contract market,” said Foose.

“Transparency is critical to ensure player performance is properly rewarded.” 

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