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Manchester United players are best paid football team ahead of Barcelona, says survey

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C) celebrates with teammates Paul Pogba (R) and Anthony Martial
Image: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba are two of United's top earners

Manchester United have overtaken Barcelona as the best paid football team in the world in 2016, according to a survey into salaries across the world of sport.

It is the first time since Sportingintelligence's Global Sports Salaries Survey started seven years ago that United's average first-team pay has outstripped every other football club.

Jose Mourinho's squad jumped from sixth to fourth in the overall list, thanks to huge expenditure during the summer that saw the arrival of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. United's average basic first-team pay in 2016-17 has been calculated at £5.77m a year or £110,962 a week.

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This puts United ahead of La Liga giants Barcelona, who are the second highest paid football team (£5.65m a year) and ahead of their local rivals, Manchester City, who are third among the football teams and ninth on the overall list with average pay of £5.4m a year.

Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers
Image: The Cleveland Cavaliers are riding high as sport's global earners

The survey considers the pay of almost 10,000 sportsmen at 333 teams in seven sports across 17 of the world's richest leagues. It only analyses earnings for playing sport and not for endorsements or other extra-curricular activities.

Among the top 12 teams around the world, only United, Barcelona and City come from football, while eight are from the NBA, and the New York Yankees in baseball. Eight of the 12 top payers are based in the USA, two in England, one in Spain, and one in Canada - the NBA's Toronto Raptors.

The Premier League remains the best-paid football league in the world. Average basic first-team pay in England's top flight is £2,438,275, or £48,766 a week.

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Image: Barcelona's stars have been put in the shade by Manchester United's big earners

That is nearly double the average wage in La Liga, which is just more than £1.2m per player per year, or £24,786 a week.

NBA side the Cleveland Cavaliers have been calculated as the world's highest paid team. The average first-team pay at the Cavaliers, home to NBA icon LeBron James, is £6.54m per year or £125,883 per week in the 2016-17 season that commenced on 25 October.

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A huge new TV deal in the NBA as well as the effects of Brexit on the dollar-pound exchange rate have contributed to the rise of the NBA teams. LA Clippers are third in the list (£5.79m per year), while baseball side, the Yankees are second overall (£5.82m).

The 449 players on the rosters of the NBA's 30 teams earn an average £4.8m a year.

Celtic have the biggest average first-team salary in Scotland at £718,000 per player, more than double the next biggest at Rangers (£317,000 per year). 

The New York Yankees stars are second on the list
Image: The New York Yankees stars are second on the list

The survey compares average basic pay in leagues ranging from the NBA, NFL, NHL hockey, MLB baseball and MLS in the USA, to football leagues in Europe and Asia, and an assortment of other popular leagues covering Australian Rules football and IPL cricket.

Premier League average pay has multiplied by almost 32 times in 25 seasons, from about £77,000 in 1992-93 to £2.4m in the current season.

United's first-team salaries have grown from about £140,000 per year in 1992-93 to more than 40 times as much.

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