Study shows Barcelona are best paid sports team in the world

Lionel Messi is the highest paid athlete in the world. (AP pic)

MADRID: Barcelona have retained their position as the world’s best paid professional sports team while National Basketball Association (NBA) sides took seven out of the top 10 places this year, a study by research body Sporting Intelligence has revealed.

Data from the annual Global Sports Salary Survey shows the average basic pay at the Spanish giants this season is £9.8 million, dipping slightly from last year’s £10.5 million.

Barcelona holding onto top spot is largely down to Argentina forward Lionel Messi’s gross basic annual pay of more than £50 million including guaranteed image rights fees.

Real Madrid are second on the list with an average basic pay of around £8.9 million while Serie A champions Juventus — who signed Messi’s great rival Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 — are in third place.

Portland Trailblazers are fourth with an average pay of £8 million, ahead of fellow NBA sides Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

English soccer champions Manchester City are 13th at £6.9 million — below France’s Paris St Germain in 12th (£7.1 million) — but ahead of local rivals Manchester United who are 33rd (£6.1 million).

The average annual salary of a Premier League player climbed over £3 million for the first time — a rise of 6.1% from last year — making the competition the highest paying soccer league, while the NBA was first overall.

Major League Baseball teams experienced mixed fortunes on the list.

The New York Yankees, who last week signed pitcher Gerrit Cole to a nine-year deal worth a reported US$324 million, are 32nd while the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks were among the biggest fallers.

Data revealed that Spain’s La Liga and the Premier League were joint-top in terms of social media popularity, well ahead of the NBA, NFL and Serie A.