Chicago Fire's Shaqiri leads Insigne, Chicharito as MLS' highest paid player

Chicago Fire FC midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri regained his title as MLS' highest-paid player with a total guaranteed compensation of $8.15 million, ahead of Toronto FC star Lorenzo Insigne and LA Galaxy striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.

Insigne had been the highest paid player as of last September, but Shaqiri regained his position after Insigne's annualized salary dropped from $14m to $7.5m, according to data released Tuesday by the MLS Players' Association.

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There was no further movement in the top five earners. Hernandez, 34, retained third spot with a guaranteed compensation $7.44m. Insigne's teammate and compatriot Federico Bernardeschi is fourth on the list at $6.3m, with the runner-up in last year's MVP vote, Austin FC's Sebastian Driussi, in fifth with $6m. League-wide, there are 112 players with a guaranteed compensation of $1m or more.

Shaqiri, 31, surpassed the previous record MLS earner, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, when he was signed from French club Lyon last year. However, he has endured a disappointing start to the 2023 season with no goals in six appearances for a Chicago team that last week parted ways with head coach Ezra Hendrickson.

The average guaranteed compensation for the entire player pool is $528,984, up 12% from the spring 2022 mark of $472,008. The salaries of players at the bottom of the league's pay scale increased as well, going up 18.6% to $294,500 from the previous mark of $248,333.

MLS and the MLSPA are in the third year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that was agreed upon in February of 2021. The CBA runs through the end of the 2027 season.

With two players in the top four, Toronto has the highest payroll with $25.74m in guaranteed compensation. The LA Galaxy is second ($23.46m) and Atlanta United third ($21.26m). D.C. United ($20.02m) and Austin FC ($19.92m) complete the top five. Three of those five -- Toronto, LA Galaxy and Austin -- are outside the playoff positions.

Reigning MLS Cup and Supporters Shield holders LAFC rank 10th with a payroll of $17.48m

CF Montreal ($10.51m) and first-year expansion team St. Louis City SC ($10.93m) have the lowest payrolls.