With the increasing commercialisation of football, hefty transfer fees and exorbitant player wages have become the norm rather than the exception.
In 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo became the most expensive player in the world when Real Madrid paid £80 million (€94 million) to Manchester United to acquire his services. A decade later, when Ronaldo moved to Juventus for €117 million, it was only the fifth-most expensive transfer in world football.
That was because, in 2017-18, Paris St. Germain flexed their financial muscles to acquire Neymar from Barcelona for a mind-boggling €222 million transfer fee that made the Brazilian the most expensive player in the world. Barcelona used those funds to bring in Ousmane Dembele for €138 million and Philippe Coutinho for €145 million.
Nowadays, besides having lucrative sponsorship and image rights deals, players are also exceptionally well paid in terms of their wages. Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly earns over €400,000 a week at Juventus. The corresponding amounts for Neymar (PSG) and Lionel Messi are over €700,000 and €547,000 respectively.
Arsenal's striking duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette earn around £400,000 a week, an amount that may be considered justifiable considering the goals the duo score. However, someone like Mesut Ozil, who also plays at the same club, earns £350,000 a week despite hardly featuring for the club last season.
Another such player is Gareth Bale, who is considered surplus to requirements at Real Madrid but takes home a cool £600,000 (before taxes) a week. He is apparently quite content to warm the Madrid bench, perhaps because not many clubs would pay him such wages.
High player wages do have repercussions, though. A player earning significantly more than his teammates could cause discord at a club, affecting team morale and unity. Ronaldo reportedly earns more than twice the next best-paid player at Juventus.
In such a backdrop, virtues like club loyalty are seemingly a thing of the past because players generally do not think twice about jumping ship when they receive a better offer elsewhere.
Even though, the 'one-club man' is a rapidly dying breed, there are players who wish to stay loyal to their clubs even when they receive lucrative offers from elsewhere. On that note, let us have a look at the ten most loyal players in European club football currently.
#10 Sammy Bossut (SV Zulte Waregem) - 14 years and 2 months
Since joining Belgian Pro League club SV Zultegem in 2006-07, 35-year-old goalkeeper Sammy Bossut has been at the club for more than 14 years.
Among a handful of active players who have spent over ten years at one club, Bossut has featured in 419 games in all competitions for the Belgian club and has kept 109 clean sheets. During this period, he has played eight games in the UEFA Cup/Europa League and a handful of qualifying games for the Champions League.
In August, Bossut, however, suffered a severe concussion and skull fracture during an exhibition game against AA Gent, which rules him out for the start of the new Belgian League season.
#9 Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) - 15 years and 1 month
During his illustrious 15-year stint at the club, which is still ongoing, the 34-year-old Ramos has eked out records galore in Madrid's famed white jersey.
Last season, Ramos became the highest-scoring defender in a La Liga season this century when he scored his 11th goal of the campaign as Real Madrid lifted the 2019-20 Liga title.
In 2018-19, Ramos became the only defender to score in 15 consecutive La Liga seasons, a mark he extended to 16 by scoring his first of 11 goals last season. To put this achievement into perspective, only La Liga top-scorer Lionel Messi has scored in that many consecutive seasons in the history of the Spanish top-flight.
The Real Madrid captain, who has won four Champions League trophies at the club, put on a defensive masterclass as the capital club won their first Liga title in three years.
As if that was not enough, Ramos also made a difference at the other end of the pitch. He scored all of his six spotkicks in La Liga last season. Ramos has now scored 19 successful penalties for club and country since missing against Sevilla in a 2017-18 Liga game.
#8 Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) - 15 years and 2 months
Since arriving in Turin from Fiorentina at the start of the 2005-06 season, Giorgio Chiellini has been at Juventus for 15 consecutive seasons.
After he scored the winner against Parma in the defending champions' first game of the season, an anterior cruciate ligament injury ruled him out for large swathes of the campaign,
Nevertheless, the Juventus captain became the first player to feature in at least one game in each of the Bianconeri's nine consecutive Serie A-winning seasons (2011-12 to 2019-20).
During this period, the centre-back has scored 36 goals in 510 appearances for Juventus in various competitions. The versatile Chiellini had actually started off as a left-back before transitioning to the centre of defence under the tutelage of Antonio Conte.
Adept in both a three-man as well as a four-man defence, Chiellini, along with Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci formed Juventus and Italy's famed BBC defensive triumvirate.
#7 Francesco Magnanelli (Sassuolo) - 15 years and 2 months
Francesco Magnanelli joined Sassuolo from Italian fourth-tier side Sangiovannese at the start of the 2006-07 season when the club from Emiglia-Romagna were in Serie C.
The defensive midfielder played two seasons in the third tier of Italian football before Sassuolo gained promotion to the second division. Magnanelli featured in five seasons of Serie B football before the club earned a promotion to Serie A where they have stayed since 2013-14.
The Sassuolo captain has played 458 games in all competitions for the club, a tally that includes 186 matches in the Italian top flight. During the first half of the 2015-16 season, Magnanelli made more recoveries than any other outfield player in the competition.