Benchwarmers: - Which Footballers Have Earned the Most for Sitting on the Bench?

Updated: 2953 Football

Benchwarmers: - Which Footballers Have Earned the Most for Sitting on the Bench?
Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

It’s no secret that Premier League footballers earn a lot of money. And with most Premier League squads reaching 25 players, it can often mean that some players spend more time on the bench than they would prefer. 

Despite their limited minutes, this doesn’t mean they can spend their time on betting sites or going on holiday. They are still training most days to ensure they’re ready for when they do get their chance.

While it can be frustrating for footballers who have to sit on the sidelines despite putting the work in during training, their huge salaries soften this blow. 

That’s why we wanted to find out which players are earning the most while keeping the substitute bench warm. We’ve looked into the salaries and the minutes played by each Premier League player to find out who earns the most per minute played. 

Most Expensive Bench Warmers

earnings on the benchWe’ve looked at the minutes played and salaries of Premier League players to find out which players earned the most per minute played.

Rank Player Club Annual Salary Minutes Played Earnings Per Minute
1 Jannik Vestergaard Leicester £3,640,000 0 £3,640,000
2 Brandon Williams Manchester United £3,380,000 0 £3,380,000
3 Adrián Liverpool £3,120,000 0 £3,120,000
4 Emil Krafth Newcastle £2,860,000 1 £2,860,000
5 Tom Heaton Manchester United £2,340,000 0 £2,340,000
6 Matt Turner Arsenal £1,820,000 0 £1,820,000
7 Paul Dummett Newcastle £1,820,000 0 £1,820,000
8 Jack Butland Manchester United/Crystal Palace £1,820,000 0 £1,820,000
9 Marcus Bettinelli Chelsea £1,820,000 0 £1,820,000
10 Darren Randolph West Ham/Bournemouth £1,820,000 0 £1,820,000

1. Jannik Vestergaard - £3.64m per minute played

Top of the pile in our updated benchwarmers list is none other than Jannik Vestergaard. The Leicester defender has been kicking his heels throughout the campaign and as of March 2023 was told to train with the reserves.

The Danish international was overlooked by both Brendan Rodgers and Dean Smith when it came to the Foxes’ bid to beat the drop and the 30-year-old was only trusted to play in last season’s FA Cup Third Round win over Gillingham. 

No league minutes played but £3.64m in his pocket all the same. Nice work if you can get it. 

2. Brandon Williams - £3.38m per minute played

Second in this season’s list is Brandon Williams, as the defender has earned nearly £3.4m without kicking a Premier League ball in anger. Admittedly an injury at the start of the campaign has hampered his chances of appearing, it does seem he is not in favour either.

The former Norwich loanee was absent from last July to December and although the 22-year-old has been available since the start of 2023, he has managed no more than five minutes in last season’s EFL Cup.

3. Adrian - £3.12 million per minute played

By Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Liverpool’s Adrian takes second place earning just over £3 million. Similarly to Henderson, Adrian failed to play a minute of Premier League football, where he became the third-choice keeper behind Alisson Becker and Caoimhin Kelleher. Adrian’s only appearance last season came against Preston in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, a competition Liverpool would go on to win. 

Each Premier League Team’s Most Expensive Bench Warmer

We’ve looked at each team in the Premier League to find out who the most expensive bench warmer was in the 2022/23 season.

earnings on the bench

Rank Player Club Pos Salary Annual Salary Earnings Per Minute
1 Jannik Vestergaard Leicester Defender £70,000 £3,640,000 £3,640,000
2 Brandon Williams Manchester United Defender £65,000 £3,380,000 £3,380,000
3 Adrián Liverpool Goalkeeper £60,000 £3,120,000 £3,120,000
4 Emil Krafth Newcastle Defender £55,000 £2,860,000 £2,860,000
5 Matt Turner Arsenal Goalkeeper £35,000 £1,820,000 £1,820,000
6 Marcus Bettinelli Chelsea Goalkeeper £35,000 £1,820,000 £1,820,000
7 Darren Randolph West Ham Goalkeeper £35,000 £1,820,000 £1,820,000
8 Scott Carson Manchester City Goalkeeper £30,000 £1,560,000 £1,560,000
9 Thomas Strakosha Brentford Goalkeeper £25,000 £1,300,000 £1,300,000

1. Goalkeeper - 9 teams’ most expensive bench warmer

It was the goalkeeper position that cost Premier League sides the most money for minutes spent on the bench. Being a backup ‘keeper can be an incredibly frustrating role for players. Unless the first-choice goalkeeper gets an injury or a suspension, your minutes will be limited which means you have to sit on the bench and wait patiently for your chance. This is often coupled with a high salary to make up for the lack of minutes. The average earnings per minute across all nine goalkeepers was just under £1.43 million.

2. Defender - 6 teams’ most expensive bench warmer

The second most common position for expensive bench warmers was in defence. The top two players in the overall list are consigned to this area of the playing field and both Jannik Vestergaard and Brandon Williams are joined by expensive company.

Newcastle’s Emil Krafth played just a single Premier League minute last season and this cost the Magpies £2.86m. Although like three of the four other defenders on this list, injury has played a substantial part in his inactivity.

Out for most of the season, Krafth joins the duo of Aston Villa’s Diego Carlos and Southampton’s Valentino Livramento as enforced absentees, while Fulham’s Shane Duffy has had to make do with countless visits to Fulham’s subs bench.

3. Striker/Midfielder - 5 teams’ most expensive bench warmers

Bringing up the rear are the forward and midfield departments and the most expensive player in this quintet is none other than Nottingham Forest’s Lyle Taylor. The striker did not get a single minute at the City Ground and this cost the club £1.04m 

With that said, you do seem to get a lot more value for money when it comes to the four remaining players. James McArthur of Crystal Palace, Sasa Kalajdzic of Wolves, Junior Stanislas of Bournemouth, and Adam Lallana of Brighton averaged just over £32k per minute.


FBRef was the source for the playing minutes and wage data 

Regarding the most expensive benchwarmer per club - players out on loan to non-Premier League clubs have been removed.
Also, players who went on loan during the season and loaned-in players during the campaign have also been removed.

However, there are exceptions with Jack Butland and Darren Randolph. These two goalkeepers split their season across two Premier League clubs each and did not play a minute for either, therefore they are benchwarmers in the purest sense and their overall salary can be calculated due to non-activity all season. 

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