11-goal Italian star becomes 6th-highest paid player in the world

Jonathan Tzvi Machlin - Thursday 14 July 2016 50 Likes

After finishing with 11 goals and six assists in the Premier League last year - solid but rather unremarkable numbers compared that left him out of the top ten in both categories - it was reasonable to suspect that Southampton striker Graziano Pelle would be a transfer target for some foreign clubs, maybe even some big ones.

But even then it seemed unlikely that anyone would have imagined that the veteran Italian would become one of the highest paid professional soccer players in the entire world.

On Tuesday, Pelle completed a move to Chinese Super League outfit Shandong Luneng  on a $17.14 million transfer fee from Southampton.

Per Sun Sport, the Chinese club are going to pay the 30-year-old Italian striker £260,000-a-week - or over $342,000-a-week.

Such a salary would make Pelle the sixth-highest paid soccer player in the world.

The five men above him in salary earned are Real Madrid megastar Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona megastar and Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, Shanghai SIPG and Brazilian striker Hulk, Barcelona scoring machine Neymar and Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Pelle has been a journeyman striker for most of his career, playing for nine different clubs so far with his role at AZ being the only one to last longer than two full seasons.

After signing with Feyenoord in 2012, Pelle set new career highs in goals scored, netting 27 times in 29 games for the Eredivisie outfit to finish second in the Dutch league in scoring. The following season he scored another 23 goals and once again finished second in the league.

Pelle went on to score two goals for Italy during Euro 2016, and earned Man of the Match honors for his performance against Belgium in the group stage.

Earlier this month, Shandong Luneng added another Premier League star - Newcastle United's Papiss Cisse.

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