O'Shea ready to cash in on Rooney saga
CONSIDERING he is the only member of the current squad to spend the entirety of his career competing for top honours, it's appropriate that John O'Shea is within reach of becoming Ireland's highest-paid footballer.
The Waterford man looks set to become an unlikely beneficiary from the Wayne Rooney contract saga if he agrees a new contract worth £80,000 a week, with Old Trafford bosses conscious that the versatile defender is another with just one full season left on his existing deal.
Now O'Shea has the opportunity to coin in £16.5m over four years. Nice work if you can get it.
Should the 29-year-old put pen to paper on those terms, it would guarantee his progression into the upper echelons of football's rich list.
Indeed, it would see O'Shea overtake Richard Dunne, Stephen Ireland and Robbie Keane, who all have to make do with weekly pay packets in the region of £60,000-£70,000.
The only Irish player left to overtake is Shay Given, who collects £90,000 a week to ease the frustration of life as understudy to Joe Hart at Manchester City. At Eastlands, they're so filthy rich that were prepared to offer the Donegal man a payrise to remove his wanderlust.
However, the 34-year-old is a wealthy man at this stage and is looking to squeeze whatever football he can from the rest of his career. The reality is that if he is to press ahead and seek a permanent move away, then a moderation of wage demands will be a prerequisite. Few clubs are capable of shelling out that kind of dough to someone approaching the final furlong.
O'Shea doesn't have to worry, though. He is arguably safer than ever at Old Trafford, 11 years after his senior debut for the club.
He properly broke into the team in 2002 and was tipped for greatness at centre-back before it became apparent that his strengths lay elsewhere.
After stints in centre-midfield and at left-back, he is now effectively first-choice right-back when everyone else is available, although he sometimes moves from that station if problems arise.
Either way, his standing has improved since their Champions League success in Moscow in 2008, when he was an unused substitute. He started in the following year's final, capitalising on Gary Neville's deterioration, Wes Brown's persistent injury issues and the fact that Rafael is still learning.
Of course, his salary pales in comparison to the £200,000 a week that Rooney's agent netted and also lags behind the reputed £100,000 that left-back Patrice Evra is on the verge of receiving.
Yet it's exalted territory for a man who was part of Brian Kerr's U-16 European Championship-winning team back in 1998.
His path to Manchester was already assured at that juncture, but he took the time to finish his schooling before making the inevitable trip across the water.
Certainly, he has taken a fair bit of stick over the years, stalling somewhat after an impressive start to life in the Premier League and then error prone during his first couple of years as an Irish international.
Under Giovanni Trapattoni, he has arguably played his best football for Ireland, eventually relocated to the right-back slot, where he now operates so consistently for the Red Devils.
His fortunes have soared in comparison to his contemporaries. Damien Duff was the main man five years ago, scoring back-to-back titles at Chelsea before taking the bizarre step of joining Newcastle on a £70,000-a-week deal, after a year on the fringes of the side.
Alas, injuries took hold and when he moved back to London to link up with Fulham last year, it's understood that he took a paycut of approximately £20,000 a week -- a necessary step when concerns existed about his fitness.
The stock of Robbie Keane has also fluctuated. He has benefited financially from a proliferation of transfers, and when Spurs brought him back from a nightmare stint at Liverpool, the terms included the captaincy and £70,000 a week.
It was a decision that Harry Redknapp quickly regretted, with the man who doesn't like to be known as a 'wheeler dealer' already willing to listen to offers within six months.
Over a year later, Keane remains at Spurs, and a huge stumbling block in the August transfer window was the inability of his suitors to match that £70,000 figure. Like Given, he'll struggle to avoid a hefty drop if his desire for game time prompts a change in employer.
Richard Dunne was at a career high of £55,000-a-week when he left Manchester City, and it's believed that he is on a similar wage with Aston Villa.
Stephen Ireland made the same switch this summer as part of the James Milner saga. Unsurprisingly, wrangling over Ireland's wages held it up.
The Cobh man was able to 'pimp' his house in Manchester with a pay packet in excess of £70,000 a week. Villa were only in a position to come up with £60,000, and are waiting for a return on that investment with his performances to date distinctly average.
Aiden McGeady is also moving up the wealth ladder due to the favourable tax situation in Russia -- he now makes over £2m a year after tax.
But it's fitting that O'Shea should ascend towards the top of the ladder. Unlike the others named, he didn't need to move from club to club to leverage his earnings. Instead, he stuck it out and fought for his place, retaining the trust of Alex Ferguson.
With four Premier League medals and a taste of Champions League, FA Cup, and Carling Cup joy, he's got more than just ridiculous wealth to show for his efforts.