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Serie A wages are lowest in years, a sign league continues to grow poorer

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Of the top clubs in Italy, only Juventus is spending more on salaries this season than last. Meanwhile, the highest-paid player on the peninsula may surprise you.

Gabriele Maltinti

Serie A is getting poorer,  according to today's edition of Gazzetta dello Sport. The 20 teams are spending a combined €849m on salaries this season, which is significantly less than only 4 years ago, when the number was close to €1.1 billion.

Clubs throughout the league are reducing their wage bills, with only a handful of teams increasing spending compared to last season. Somewhat surprisingly, Juventus is the only one among the big clubs to increase money spent on wages. The bianconeri are spending €118m now, and that's bound to increase in the coming months (or perhaps even weeks), as the negotiations for Paul Pogba's new contract near.

Of course, spending always means success. The best example of that is AC Milan, who finished outside the European places last season. The rossoneri managed to cut their spending to under €100m, but they are still second in what they're paying their players, despite finishing 8th last season. Then comes Roma with €94m, and then, far behind, Inter Milan, who by saying goodbye to the members of the triplete team reduced the bill to "just" €70m, level with Napoli.

Then there's another significant gap before Fiorentina and Lazio. Fiorentina are the sixth biggest spender in Italy's top flight, with €56m devoted to wages. But like with Juventus, that's likely to change soon, when the expected new and improved contract with Juan Cuadrado is signed. Lazio follows close behind, with wages of €55.1m per year.

That's the big six of Italian football. All the other teams are far behind. Sassuolo are one of the very few teams that raised the bill, now around €28m, likely in hopes of avoiding relegation once more.

Perhaps surprisingly, the highest paid player in Italy is Daniele De Rossi. Roma's legend gets €6.5m per year, so maybe it isn't really that shocking he's remained in the capital this long. Behind him, there's Gonzalo Higuain with €5.5m, and then Carlos Tevez with €4.5m, Mario Gómez with €4.25m and -- wait for it -- Phillipe Mexès and Fernando Torres with €4m apiece.

Gómez is the viola top earner by far, with Giuseppe Rossi making €2.4m, followed by Alberto Aquilani at €1.8m. On the other end of the spectrum, Cristiano Lupatelli, who some might have forgotten even is at Fiorentina, makes "only" €100.000 a year. New contracts are expected for Cuadrado, currently earning €1.05m, and Aquilani, but the latter will either accept a reduced salary or will leave at the end of this season on a free, reports suggest. The most interesting among Fiorentina contracts is Khouma El Babacar's. The young forward is on a €450.000 a year, but there is a clause in it that says it may rise to €1m if he scores ten or more goals this season.

Gazzetta also published the wages of all of the Serie A coaches. There are no big surprises: Rafa Benitez is the top earning manager with €3.5m, and Walter Mazzarri is a close second with €3.3m. Vincenzo Montella is 6th, with €1.4m. One of the coaches that will forever be fondly remembered at Artemio Franchi, Siniša Mihajlović is right behind, with €1.2m.

So, what does all this tell us? Serie A is spending less, and the gap between it and the top leagues is widening. For example, Hull City has spent around €41m on new signings this season, just a few million less than Juve, Inter and Milan together. But there may be positives. Clubs are not spending more than they have. They are trying to bring the wage bills under control, and pretty much all of them are succeeding at it.

Further analysis of how much Serie A teams are spending on salaries can be found in today's Gazzetta dello Sport.