According to the annual ’Global Sports Salaries Survey’ (GSSS) carried out by Sportingintelligence, the average basic first-team pay at Barcelona is $12.2 million per year for the current season.
While this signifies a slight drop from last year, it keeps the Catalan club ahead of its Spanish rival Real Madrid, which boasts a $11.1 million average wage bill.
Arguably the most significant development is that Juventus has jumped from ninth to third in the list.
Thanks to the signing of Ronaldo and other high-profile players, the Italian giant moved from No. 32 in 2017/18 to 10th last year before making the jump to the podium.
The rest of the top 10 is made up of NBA teams, with the Portland Trail Blazers and 2018/19 runners-up Golden State Warriors completing the top five.
“It is not entirely a coincidence that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, the world’s top three wage payers (by average salary) are also among the top five most popular teams in any sport, anywhere, measured by their popularity across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter combined,” the GSSS report said.
A key factor in Barcelona retaining top spot was Messi’s contract in 2018 which pays him more than $65 million a season, including guaranteed image rights fees and included a €700 million ($775 million) release clause.
The biggest risers are the Buffalo Bills of the NFL – 60 places from No. 152 to No. 92 – while the biggest drop off is MLB team the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays fell 123 places to No. 172.
The NBA remains the top paying league as a whole in world sport, continued GSSS, with average basic salaries of almost £6.7 million ($8.7 million) per player this season. The Premier League remains the highest paying football league in the world, at nearly £3.2 million ($4.2 million) per player this season.
The NFL has the highest average attendance – 67,100 – while MLB, where teams play 162 games, has the highest total attendance of 68,494,752 tickets sold.
The Premier League is on course to break the English top division attendance record that was set in the 1948/49 season, something the report’s editor Nick Harris calls “remarkable.”
“In an age of football saturation, weariness at cynical owners, asset-squeezing, rampant agents’ greed and widely perceived sky-high ticket prices, record all-time crowds would be remarkable,” he said.