The increasing gap between the wealth of English and Italian club football has been revealed in a new survey which shows that Ashley Cole took almost a £6 million pay-cut to join Roma.

While spending on Premier League wages is at an all-time high following the arrival at Manchester United of Radamel Falcao on £265,000-a-week, a trend of declining pay in Italy is confirmed by research in the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.
It lists the salaries of every professional player in Serie A, with the clubs' total wage-bill after tax put at £680m and now lower that it was even five seasons ago. The Premier League collectively spent £1.6 billion before tax in 2012-13 on wages – a figure that will have increased further over the past two years. This is starkly illustrated by Cole being listed as earning £35,000-a-week at Roma compared to a pre-tax salary in excess of £150,000 at Chelsea.

Other strikingly low wages, at least by the standards of England and Spain, include Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba being on only £23,000-a-week. The Juventus squad is collectively still the best paid in Serie A at £95m annually, although that is below England's leading clubs.

Indeed, the wage-spend of QPR during their doomed Premier League season of 2012-13 (£78m before tax) is only marginally less than the figures that are reported this season for Lazio and Fiorentina.