Many Serie A players earn less than MLS counterparts - study

Correction: This report was based on a study that attempted to compare players' gross wages in Major League Soccer to net wages earned by players in Serie A, creating a false equivalence. Click here for a full explanation and a look at the correct figures.

Many Serie A players are earning less than their Major League Soccer counterparts, a study has claimed.

An in-depth study by the Norwegian Axo Finans group found there are more players in MLS earning over €100,000 per week than in Serie A.

Approximately five percent of MLS players fit into that category, whereas in Italy the figure is just three percent. By comparison, 49 percent of Premier League players and 15 percent of the stars in Spain and China are earning €100,000 or more per week.

Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain -- Serie A's highest-paid player and the 47th best-paid player in world football on €148,000 per week -- is earning less than the Bundesliga's biggest earner Philipp Lahm, which is higher than MLS' best paid player Kaka.

However, Juve are an exception. They rank 16th on a list of clubs with the most players earning over €100,000 per week, with Miralem Pjanic and Roma's Daniele De Rossi also fitting into that bracket. No other Italian club has more than one player earning over €100,000 a week, according to the study.

The Bianconeri are level on that list with Toronto FC, for whom Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley earn six-figure weekly salaries, and New York City FC, where Frank Lampard -- who announced his departure last month -- and Andrea Pirlo were on lucrative contracts.

Manchester City, who lead that particular ranking, have 18 players on more than €100,000 a week.

The figures confirm the recent economic decline of the Italian game, which has suffered significantly from recent global financial crises and an enduring domestic recession. While Serie A was the league of choice for the world's top stars in the 1990s, it now struggles to attract the most expensive players.

As a result, Italian clubs have become less competitive in European competitions, with Inter Milan the last to lift the Champions League in 2010 and Juve reaching the final in 2015. Inter have since fallen into the hands of Chinese investors with city rivals AC Milan due to follow in March, with their president Silvio Berlusconi admitting that it is the only way his club can become competitive again.

"I believe this last decision is an important one: to pass Milan on to somebody who is willing to invest in Milan and to restore them to a role of protagonist in Italy, Europe and the world," Berlusconi said in August upon striking an agreement to sell the Serie A club, who have failed to qualify for the Champions League or the Europa League for three years running.

Only two Serie A sides have qualified for the group stage of the Champions League in each of the past three seasons, with only Juve succeeding in progressing to the knockout stages each time.

Napoli and Roma have repeatedly failed to do so, allowing Juve -- domestic champions for five years in succession -- to earn a larger slice of television income due to market share and outmuscle their rivals in terms of salaries.