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Unknown Argentine Was Once The Third Best Paid Player In The World Behind Cristiano Ronaldo And Lionel Messi

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Unknown Argentine Was Once The Third Best Paid Player In The World Behind Cristiano Ronaldo And Lionel Messi

Little known Argentine Dario Conca was once the third best paid player in world football, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi earned more at the time. 

Back in 2011, Conca was playing for Brazilian club Fluminense and played a key role in helping the side win their first Brazilian championship since 1984. He was also voted as the best player in Brazil’s Serie A in 2009 and 2010. 

As a result of his performances, many clubs around the world was interested in adding Conca to their ranks. 

However, the midfielder decided against a move to a big European club, instead signing for Chinese Super League side, Guangzhou Evergrande after a lucrative deal was tabled for the club. 

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The Chinese club shelled out a then record of $10 million for him. 

Conca signed a two and a half year deal that saw him take home £170,000 a week, ranking him as the third best paid player in the world. 

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

Only Messi and Ronaldo earned more at the time, the pair was playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. 

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Whilst Messi and Ronaldo battled it out for Champions League trophies and Ballon d’Or awards, Conca impressed in China as he racked up 99 appearances in three seasons, scoring 54 goals. 

He may have put in some impressive performances but he was also a controversial figure. 

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

Conca was banned for nine matches by the club after he questioned the manager’s decision to sub him off during matches. 

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He said: “I don’t understand why they always sideline me with the excuse that I’m exhausted and need rest. How could I have scored a crucial penalty if I’m not in condition? And why does the coach always have Conca take a rest?”

In the middle of his suspension, the club appointed former World Cup winning manager with Italy, Marcello Lippi, who subsequently cut short the suspension. 

During his time with Guangzhou, he helped the team win three Chinese Super League titles in a row and also the AFC Champions League. 

He then left China to return to Fluminense, which saw his wages drop drastically from £170,000 a week to just £8,000 a week. 

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Conca was then lured back to China when Sven Goran Eriksson signed him for Shanghai SIPG

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

Eriksson said: “Conca is like Messi, he is the same size, he is left footed, he is a fantastic dribbler and he makes and scores a lot of goals.” 

“When I came here, he was the one player I wanted more than any other.”

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In 2019, Conca announced his retirement from football at the age of 36. Throughout his career his earnings totalled more than £50 million despite having zero caps for Argentina. 

He told GloboEsporte.com in 2019: “Football has given me a lot, I love this career, it was fantastic for me, but today I think it’s the right time for me to stop.” 

“I was not thinking about football today. It gave me a lot, I’m very grateful for everything, I managed to make a career, to have recognition.” 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Football, Chinese Super League

Marcus Chan
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