Friday, September 5, 2008

How much would John Barnes earn now?

While enjoying a pie and a pint at lunch with a colleague, our conversation turned to former Liverpool star John Barnes. Not his international career (which, incidentally, was nowhere near as bad as some remember), but his consistently inspiring performances for Liverpool.

Given the current discussions about the obscene amount of money in the game, including Manchester City's Robinho's assumed wage of £160,000-a-week), the topic soon turned to wondering how much Barnes would earn if he was playing, at his peak, in the Premier League today? We both agreed the highly unscientific amount of "a lot." but couldn't decide exactly how much!

When Barnes was at his true peak, in the late 80s (and before Sky money destroyed top-flight football), he regularly performed above and beyond the level of any other player, at club level, in the country. If English clubs were not barred from Europe at that point, he surely would have dazzled audiences across the continent.

Has any player impressed as much as Barnes at club level since? The only player worthy of mentioning is Cristiano Ronaldo, and specifically during last season. Apart from Ronaldo, many have shone at times - for example, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Steve McManaman, Ryan Giggs - but no others have consistently performed so far ahead of the rest of the field.

So to those who think football is in a good condition and there are no problems with the English Premier League, take a look again at John Barnes in action. Is it right that mediocre, teenage bench-warmers can earn so much more than he did at his peak? I think not.