ISL 2017: Dimitar Berbatov set to become 3rd highest paid player in Indian football

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Berbatov and Keane - ISL 2017-18's two highest earners

Dimitar Berbatov is very close to becoming an Indian Super League player and the former Manchester United star will pocket an insane amount of money in wages, according to close sources.

The Bulgarian legend hasn't played football for a considerable amount of time, but his reputation is what precedes him and judging by the ISL's propensity to shell out bags of cash on spent players, Berbatov reportedly earning ₹7.5 crores for four months of ISL action in the 2017-18 season doesn't come as a surprise.

In the process, Berbatov will become the third highest-paid player in ISL history after two more legendary forwards, Robbie Keane and Alessandro Del Piero. Keane, who joined ATK earlier this summer, will be earning around £50,000-£70,000 per week at the two-time ISL champions that will make him the second-highest earner in ISL history.

Del Piero, whom Delhi Dynamos roped in for the inaugural ISL campaign in 2014, earned ₹10.8 crores, still the benchmark amount for the popular franchise league. Del Piero's subsequent non-performance in ISL-1 could be said to have indirectly led the franchises to restructure their foreign recruitment policy and such an outlay hasn't been seen since.

Last season, Diego Forlan was the most expensive foreign recruit and the Uruguayan World Cup Golden Boot winner took home a cool ₹6.6 crores for three months of ISL action. Forlan did justice to Mumbai City FC's trust on him and was one of the stars as the club finished the league phase of ISL 2016 atop the table.

Such vindication of trust is also expected from Keane and Berbatov, on whom ATK and Kerala Blasters have splashed club record amounts of money this summer respectively.

Here are the top five earners in the history of the Indian Super League, with the exception of Berbatov, whose signing hasn't been made official yet.

Alessandro Del Piero - ₹10.8 crores

Robbie Keane - ₹6.6 crores to ₹9.2 crores

Nicolas Anelka - ₹5.4 crores

Elano - ₹4.8 crores

David Trezeguet - ₹4.5 crores

With the growth of the ISL over the course of its last three seasons and its expansion that will come about next season with two more teams, the recruitment scenario has also altered as far as the clubs are concerned.

In 2015, after the big splash of ISL 2014, clubs were far less aggressive in the international market, with Elano at Chennaiyin FC earning the most at ₹4.8 crores. Forlan upped the stakes a bit last year and this summer, ATK and Kerala Blasters have taken the ISL money game higher, unless there are more surprises on the way. The 2017-18 ISL season kicks off on 17th November.

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