Ibrahimovic, Vela, Rooney and the top 10 earners in MLS

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The Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA) has released its salary guide for 2019. 

As expected, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's new deal with the LA Galaxy has seen him vastly improve his wages from a year ago, and while his move up the list is not a shock, there were a few surprises along the way. 

See for youself below, as Goal runs through the 10 highest-earners in MLS from top to bottom. 

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic LA Galaxy MLS 03312019
    Katharine Lotze

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic | LA Galaxy | $7.2 million

    After working through the 2018 season on the measly listed wages of $1.5m, Ibrahimovic made the decision to stick around in MLS, and it paid off in a big way.  

    The LA Galaxy designated player is on the highest salary in the history of MLS, his $7.2 million just a shade over the $7.1m listed wage for Sebastian Giovinco with Toronto last season.

    But with 33 goals in 39 outings, the Galaxy likely feel they're getting strong value out of the former Manchester United forward, who continues to shine both on and off the field and is the biggest star in the league at this point. 

  2. Giovani dos Santos LA Galaxy Atlanta United
    Getty Images

    Giovani dos Santos | No Club | $6.5m

    To keep Ibrahimovic, the Galaxy had to make a sacrifice elsewhere, and Dos Santos was the man to take the hit. 

    The Mexico international was one of four designated players on the Galaxy roster heading into the 2019 season, but MLS rules allow for only three. The club made the call to cut loose the older of the Dos Santos brothers in March, but his compensation package still sees him listed as one of the highest-paid players on the MLS payroll, even if he is not currently in the league. 

  3. Michael Bradley Toronto FC
    Getty Images

    Michael Bradley | Toronto FC | $6.5m

    Bradley has been among the league's best paid players for several years and was part of a high-earning Toronto side which won the 2017 MLS Cup title in record-setting fashion. 

    His total compensation package still sees him listed as one of the top-three earners in the league, and TFC will be hoping he can help them reach championship form again in 2019. 

  4. Jozy Altidore Toronto FC MLS 2018
    Vaughn Ridley

    Jozy Altidore | Toronto FC | $6.3m

    Another player who picked up a big payday from Toronto FC, Altidore remains in the top-five highest paid players in the league. 

    The USMNT forward has netted five times in nine appearances so far this season for TFC as he has battled injury, but remains a threat when fit and on the pitch. 

    He will be hoping for a return to his 2017 form, when he netted 15 times for the club in helping lead them to the top of MLS. 

  5. Carlos Vela LAFC MLS 2019
    Sean M. Haffey

    Carlos Vela | Los Angeles FC | $6.3m

    The fifth-highest paid player in MLS may be the league's most valuable. 

    Carlos Vela has turned into a monster for LAFC in his second season in the league and looks like an absolute steal compared to most of the names above him on the list at this point. 

    He is on a record scoring pace, having already contributed to 26 goals in 16 league games played (16 goals scored, 10 assists), and has the second-year franchise looking like a favorite for the MLS crown this season. 

  6. Bastian Schweinsteiger MLS Chicago Fire 08282018
    Adam Pretty

    Bastian Schweinsteiger | Chicago Fire | $5.6m

    The German midfielder is one of the most recognizable names in the league and is being paid as such. 

    Having made the move from Manchester United to Chicago in 2017, Schweinsteiger resigned with the club for the 2019 season and will be hoping to help the Fire rebound from a dreadful 2018 campaign. 

  7. Ignacio Piatti MLS Montreal Impact 07032018

    Ignacio Piatti | Montreal Impact | $4.4m

    The only Montreal player in the top 30 in terms of salary, Nacho remains one of the most dominant attacking forces in the league. 

    For the last three years the Argentine has posted 15 or more goals and five or more assists, rolling up 16 strikes and 13 helpers in 2018 while earning MLS Best XI honors. 

    Piatti also has an odd distinction among the top 10 earners as the only one with a base salary under $1m. The total compensation numbers released take into account base salary and all signing and guaranteed bonuses annualized over the term of the player's contract​, meaning Piatti is earning well over the $530,000 listed as his base pay. 

  8. Alejandro Pozuelo Toronto FC MLS 2019
    Perry McIntyre

    Alejandro Pozuelo | Toronto FC | $3.8m

    Signed as a replacement for Sebastian Giovinco, the Spanish star has made an immediate impact since joining Toronto FC, and jumped directly into the top 10 of best-paid players in the league. 

    He has been worth the money to this point, having notched five goals and eight assists across just 12 games played this season. 

  9. Wayne Rooney D.C. United 03092019

    Wayne Rooney | D.C. United | $3.5m

    One of the biggest names in the league, it should come as no shock that Wayne Rooney makes the list of the 10 best-paid players. 

    But it is not just name recognition that makes the former Manchester United and Everton star worth the money. Rooney has helped spark new life into United and was named as an MLS Best XI selection in his first season in the league with 12 goals and seven assists across 20 matches. 

    He is on pace to beat those numbers in 2019 as well, having already notched eight goals and five assists as United sits third in the Eastern Conference standings.

  10. Josef Martinez Atlanta United MLS Cup 2018
    Kevin C. Cox

    Josef Martinez | Atlanta United | $3m

    Signed initially on a loan deal from Torino in 2017, Martinez has become one of the most feared players in MLS and has earned the right to be in the top 10 through his scoring and the title he helped bring to the second-year club last season. 

    A strong first season saw the Venezuelan net 19 times in 20 matches. Then came 2018, the year in which Martinez set the MLS single-season scoring record with 31 goals in 34 games. 

    His record may be threatened this season by the likes of Vela and Ibrahimovic, but Martinez has more than proven his worth to Atlanta.