Injuries are an occupational hazard for football players and the odds of not getting injured during a career are pretty low, and some injuries can put a player out of action for a very long time.
Some players’ wage packets are huge, meaning if they are out injured for a long time, there is a substantial cost to the club with no reward.
We have studied the injuries of players in Europe’s top five divisions over the past year to calculate which players’ injuries have cost the most, and which clubs have spent the most money on paying their injured players.
1.Eden Hazard - Real Madrid
Days Injured - 252
Weekly Wage - £407,000
Money Lost Due to Injury - £14,652,000
The player whose injuries have cost the most during the past year is somewhat unsurprisingly Belgian superstar Eden Hazard. Since becoming the latest Galactico signing at Real Madrid he has hardly ever made it onto the pitch and amazingly has missed 252 days in the past year due to a combination of muscle injuries. Hazard is the third highest-paid player in La Liga as he earns £407,000 per week, therefore it has cost Los Blancos a massive £14.65 million in wages while he has been out, which is over a million more than his next nearest competitor.
2.Philippe Coutinho - Barcelona
Days Injured - 233
Weekly Wage - £406,000
Money Lost Due to Injury - £13,514,000
Another Premier League talent who has spectacularly flopped in Spain following a huge transfer is attacking midfielder Philipe Coutinho. So far Coutinho has failed to score over ten league goals in a single season for Barcelona, and ironically his most memorable moment was scoring against them while on loan at Bayern Munich last season. As his transfer was the third most expensive of all time he was supposed to be the next superstar in Catalunya and consequently, he has a huge wage of £406,000 which combined with 233 days injured has cost Barca £13.51 million in the past year.
3.Neymar - Paris Saint-Germain
Days Injured - 95
Weekly Wage - £859,000
Money Lost Due to Injury - £11,657,857
Now comes the man whose world-record transfer changed the face of football finances forever, the gobsmacking £198 million transfer from Barcelona to PSG in 2017 was more than double the previous transfer record. At times Neymar has looked like the best player in the world, but unfortunately, he has not pushed on to claim that title due to persistent injuries. During his time in Paris he has never made over 20 appearances in a league season, and in the last year missed 95 days, which cost the club £11.66 million as he is the third-highest player in the world on £859,000 per week.
4.Paul Pogba - Manchester United
Days Injured - 230
Weekly Wage - £290,000
Money Lost Due to Injury - £9,528,571
Perhaps the most divisive player over the past half-decade or so is Paul Pogba, with some believing he is a world-class midfielder, and others seeing him as a waste of money by Manchester United. The World Cup-winning midfielder has shown moments of brilliance, and this combined with his world-record transfer at the time earns him £290,000 a week at Old Trafford. Unfortunately for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his star midfielder has spent a large portion of the past year out injured and has missed 230 days which has cost the club £9.52 million in wages while injured.
5.Marco Reus - Borussia Dortmund
Days Injured - 214
Weekly Wage - £210,000
Money Lost Due to Injury - £6,420,000
Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus is the only man in this top five who was not one of the most expensive signings of all time as he cost less than £15 million back in 2012, which seems like a bargain given the nine years of service he has given the German giants. However, one area where he wasn’t a bargain at all is in regards to injuries throughout his time at Dortmund as he has lost almost three years to persistent injuries, and 214 of those days were in the past year. Despite these injury issues when fit he has been one of the best players in Germany, earning £210,000 a week, which cost his club £6.42 million in the past year.
With eleven players costing Real over £1 million in wages while injured during the past year it is perhaps unsurprising that they are at the top of this list. As previously mentioned Eden Hazard’s injuries have cost the most in the world in the past season, but they also have captain Sergio Ramos in the top twenty, with his injuries costing just under £5 million. In total Real Madrid have spent £38.26 million on injured players’ wages in the past year.
The state-backed oil-rich Parisians have been the biggest spenders in football during the past few years, therefore it is unsurprising that they feature highly on this list despite having an average length of injury which is over ten days shorter than Real Madrid and twenty shorter than Barcelona. PSG’s total annual wage bill is in excess of £200 million and £35.11 million of that is spent on injured players, with Neymar and Marco Veratti in the top twenty players.
Rounding out the top three teams spending the most money on injured players wages are Spanish giants, Barcelona who spent £34.88 million in the past year. Barca are currently in a financial crisis, and reportedly have debts of over £1 billion and long term injuries to big-name players have not helped the situation. In addition to Coutinho in second place, they also have defender Samuel Umtiti in the top ten players who cost the club £6.33 million while injured last year.
Injuries - Using personal injury records for each player from https://www.transfermarkt.com we calculated how many days each player had missed in the last twelve months, from April 2020 to March 2021.
Wages - To find out the wages for Premier League players we collected the data from Spotrac: https://www.spotrac.com/epl/. And for the data on wages from all the other leagues we used https://salarysport.com.