The Spanish giant has moved back to the top of the rankings for the 2018-19 season with an average yearly player salary of £10.46 million excluding bonuses, loyalty bonuses or signing-on fees – a figure that translates to a staggering first-team pay average of £201,043 per week, the Independent reported.
Lionel Messi’s eye-watering new contract, which pays him a basic £50 million per year before tax, is the primary reason for the huge rise in Barcelona’s average pay from £6.6m a year ago.
Real Madrid has risen to second on the list with an average first-team salary of £8.1m per year, despite offloading its single biggest wage bill expense by selling superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus in a £99.2m-deal last summer.
Manchester United, which pays its first-team stars an average of £6.53m per year, is the only Premier League club to make the top 10. it lies 10th in the list, one place behind Juventus, whose wage bill has grown substantially due to the acquisition of Ronaldo from Madrid.
England’s top flight remains the highest-paying football league in the world, and the close of the 2018 summer transfer window saw the average first-team salary rise to a record £57,514 per week.
The other six teams in the top 10 – and 20 of the top 30 – are NBA franchises, with basketball’s premier competition maintaining its status as the highest-paying sports league in the world thanks to an average yearly salary of $7.8m (£5.9m).
Reigning champions the Golden State Warriors are fourth with average yearly pay of £7.8m, marginally behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. Eastern Conference leaders the Toronto Raptors, the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat round out the top 10.
The Thunder, the Warriors and the Wizards – who have lost 12 of their 19 games this season – have made history by becoming the first franchises in any American sport to give their players an average basic salary of more than $10m (£7.8m) per year.
Salary cap restrictions ensured that no NFL teams made the top 50 of a list dominated by European football clubs and NBA teams, but the reigning champion Boston Red Sox (36th) and last season’s losing finalists the Houston Astros (48th) were among the MLB franchises to earn a place.