The first week of September is always an interesting time for fans of Serie A with an interest in the game beyond just what happens on the pitch. This is the time of year when La Gazzetta dello Sport releases their wage data for the season, a much-anticipated time for those who love to crunch the league's salary numbers.
After a couple years of holding steady right around €70 million, Napoli bumped their wages up a tick to €74 million after two busy transfer windows that saw nine new players arrive -- two last January and seven this summer -- and two others return from multi-year loan spells. Of course, that number includes two well-paid players that the team tried and failed to transfer this summer, so it may well be that Napoli targeted that same wage level again and couldn't meet it.
Unsurprisingly, Gonzalo Higuain is still Napoli's highest-paid player by some ways, just as he has been ever since he joined Napoli in 2013. The man in second place, however, will surprise you. Without further ado, here's the full list.
|Napoli Wages||€74 million|
|Jonathan De Guzman||€1.5||2018|
|Omar El Kaddouri||€0.8||2017|
|Nathaniel Chalobah (loan)||€0.5||2016|
Before you add those numbers up and then accuse anyone of fuzzy math because the wages don't add up to the big number at the top, lets clarify that discrepancy. As La Gazzetta explains, they report the team's wage bills as total gross expenditures, while the player's salary are what they make net after taxes. While they don't specify, it's likely that the gross wage bill also includes technical and other non-playing staff as well.
Now then, back to the shock of "Camilo Zuniga makes what?!" Yes, the Colombian wingback who made just 13 Serie A appearances total over the last two seasons is Napoli's second-highest paid player at €3.2 million per season, ahead of team captain and icon Marek Hamsik, who makes €3 million. As you may recall, he signed a lucrative extension just before his knee injury early in the 2013/14 season that kept him out almost until the end of the season -- then recurred again this past campaign, limiting him to just seven appearances. That lovely contract runs for two more years.
No wonder Napoli couldn't get rid of him.
Two other players Napoli struggled to get out the door combine to add another €2.5 million per season: Jonathan De Guzman and Henrique. The former rejected three separate moves away from the San Paolo this summer, while Napoli couldn't find an interested team that would meet their fairly modest valuation of Henrique. If Napoli can clear those three off the books in January, that could help them land a couple very talented players based on what the team currently doles out in wages. Doing something about the €1.2 million Christian Maggio makes (and will continue to make until 2018 ... because reasons?) will help that as well.
Despite the bloat in some areas of the squad, there's others that are making well below their likely "true" value. Napoli's two best defenders last season, Faouzi Ghoulam and Kalidou Koulibaly, make just €800,000 each. Their best-performing central midfielder from last season, David Lopez? He makes the same as Ghoulam and Khoulibaly. That's solid value considering how much they give the team compared to some higher earners.
Of the summer signings, Pepe Reina is the highest earner, with Allan and Vlad Chiriches the only others above the €1 million per season mark. Elseid Hysaj, who figures to have a fair-sized role this season and become increasingly important over the next few seasons, but makes just €600,000 per season. He and Chiriches are the only Napoli players currently signed until 2020, though Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne are both likely due new deals soon that will extend their contracts to the same season.
As far as Maurizio Sarri goes, his €800,000 salary is dramatically lower than the €3.5 million Rafa Benitez makes. That plus the fact that he's only signed for this season -- Napoli hold an option for another year -- will make it easier to cut ties with him should their early-season struggles continue for very long.
The league-wide numbers are both promising and interesting to look at -- we'll be back to take a look at those later on.