South African footballers have every reason to pursue their professional ambitions at home. Over the years, the South African Premier League (PSL) has leveled up with its European counterparts and can now rival offers some of those clubs make.
The league’s level of professionalism has resulted in it hosting some of the highest-paid players in Africa. Which begs the question, who is the highest-paid player in PSL?
In this article, we’ll give you the names of the top ten highest-paid players in the PSL. We’ll also cover their footballing background, the clubs they represent, and their positions.
Highest-Paid Player in PSL in 2022
Have you heard the spin given to the phrase “the grass is greener on the other side?” We aren’t talking about football pitches. It’s the fact that the PSL has made sure that it’s going to retain South Africa’s top footballing talent.
One way you do that is by paying players well; the clubs do that effectively. So, if you’ve been wondering who the highest paid player in PSL is, here you go.
1. Keagan Dolly – R1.45 million
Keagan Larenzo Dolly, or Keagz, is the highest paid player in PSL. The left-footed attacking midfielder earns around R1.45 million per month, which translates to $95,000. He is currently playing for Soweto giants Amakhosi (Kaizer Chiefs). He joined on a free transfer from French side Montpellier.
The Westbury-born midfielder spent three seasons in France (2017 to 2021) but fell out of favor and had to look for other options.
Before his move to Europe, Keagan Dolly plied his trade at South African sides Ajax Cape Town (2012 to 2014) and Mamelodi Sundowns (2014 to 2017), where he won the league with them during the 2015/16 season as well as the CAF Champions League.
2. Samir Nurković – R1,000,000 million
Before Keagan Dolly arrived, Serbian Samir Nurković, a Kaizer Chiefs player at the time, topped the rich list.
Samir Nurković, now with Royal AM, has had quite an eventful year. Around May of 2022, the grapevine was rife with news about his move to Royal AM after struggling to find his form for Kaizer Chiefs and the Amakhosi not renewing his contract. Reports that his agent was quick to quash.
Well, he eventually joined Royal AM, but just two months later, Nurković was sidelined with an injury. Things then turned worse with Royal AM announcing that they were letting Nurković go just 2 months after signing.
Despite his woes, he’s now the second highest paid player in PSL, taking home a tidy sum of R1,000,000 per month.
Before his move to Royal AM, the Serbian striker joined the Amakhosi in 2019 from Slovakian outfit FKC Komarno and penned a three-year deal.
3. Khama Billiat – R850,000
If you’ve watched Khama Billiat, you will understand why he is rated so highly and, at one time, was on the radar of European, American, and even Asian clubs.
Despite the demand, Khama Billiat chose to remain in South Africa. The Zimbabwean midfielder rakes in a tidy R850,000 per month, making him the x highest paid player in PSL.
He joined Kaizer from Mamelodi Sundowns in 2018 and is a regular for Stuart Baxter’s side. Billiat is a three-time PSL champion (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16); all titles won with Mamelodi Sundowns.
He’s previously played for Cape Town FC and CAPS United FC.
4. Deon Hotto – R500,000
Namibian midfielder Deon Hotto sits fourth in our top ten list of the highest-paid players in the PSL.
Upon joining Orlando Pirates in 2020, Deon Hotto gets R500,000 per month, an R300,000 increase from his previous salary at Bidvest Wits which also made him one of the highest earners at Orlando.
The other South African clubs Deon Hotto has represented include Bloemfontein Celtic and Golden Arrows. Before this, he played in his home country Namibia for African Stars and Blue Boys.
5. Itumeleng Khune – R480,000
The veteran goalkeeper has been a safe pair of hands for Kaizer Chiefs since he made his senior debut in the 2007/08 season. The Amakhosi is the only club he’s played for, and his loyalty has been rewarded handsomely, despite not being the first-choice goalie.
Plus, to be amongst the highest paid players in the PSL for his position only speaks to his quality.
Khune earns R480,000 per month, and with the wealth of experience he’s accumulated over the years, you can understand why Kaizer Chiefs wants him around.
He’s won multiple titles with the Amakhosi. In fact, he’s won all titles there are to win in South African football.
6. Dennis Onyango – R450,000
Like Itumeleng Khune, Dennis Onyango is the other high-profile goalkeeper in the PSL. The Ugandan international has been at Mamelodi Sundowns since 2011 and has made over 117 appearances.
He’s one of the highest-paid players not only in PSL but also at Sundowns, with an income of R450,000.
Before he joined Sundowns, he was at Mpumalanga Black Aces, Supersport United, St. Georges SA, and Villa SC.
7. Kennedy Mweene – R420,000
He is the third goalkeeper to make the highest-paid player in the PSL. Kennedy Mweene has been at Mamelodi Sundowns since 2013.
He has proven his goalkeeping skills not only at the club level but also at the international level.
His penalty-saving abilities have made him stand out, and he is a favorite for his country, Zambia and Sundowns.
8. Gaston Sirino – R400,000
Leandro Gaston Sirino is an Uruguayan footballer who moved to the PSL in 2018 from Bolivian Football Club, Club Bolivar.
He joined Mamelodi Sundowns and has made upwards of 100 appearances.
For that move, he negotiated a salary of R400,000, which makes him one of the highest-paid soccer players in PSL.
Gaston Sirino is known for his versatility, playing both as a center forward and on the left flank.
9. Brain Mandela – R380,000
Kenyan international Brian Mandela has worked his way from the Kenyan Premier League to the PSL and is now one of the highest-paid soccer players in the league.
Brain Mandela’s pay former Kenyan clubs Posta Rangers and Tusker doesn’t come close to what he’s now earning in South Africa.
His footballing exploits in South Africa began at Santos in 2012 before he moved to Maritzburg United in 2015 and switched allegiance in 2020 when he joined his current side Mamelodi Sundowns.
10. Sibusiso Vilakazi – R350,000
At R350,000 per month, Sibusiso Vilakazi is one of the highest-paid players in PSL. The attacking midfielder joined Sundowns in 2016, only his second club after Bidvest Wits, where he was for seven seasons.
He moved to Mamelodi, having lifted the league title with Wits in 2016. He repeated the feat with his current side in 2018.
So far, Vilakazi has made 14 appearances and scored four goals for “The Brazilians.”
How Can the Highest Paid Players in PSL Earn So Much?
The highest-paid player in the South African league as of 2022, Keagan Dolly, takes home a staggering R1.45 million every month. He plays for one of the biggest clubs in the country, Kaizer Chiefs, and at the time of his purchase, several clubs expressed interest, another factor that drives up a player’s value hence increased wage demands.
Statista ranks the Amakhosi as the seventh most valuable club in Africa out of 20 as of the 2021/22 season, with a market value of €14.63 million or R262 million. These figures explain why Kaizer Chiefs players are highly paid, with the lowest salary at the club estimated to be around R20,000.
Only Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates can compete with Kaizer Chiefs. Mamelodi Sundowns ranks second with a value of €21.3 million, an equivalent of R382 million, while Orland Pirates rank fifth with a value of €18.15 million or R325.9 million.
Amazulu, SuperSport United, and Cape Town City FC are the other clubs in the top 20 list.
Let’s also remember that these clubs increase their value by competing in continental tournaments such as the CAF Champions League, CAF Confederations Cup, and CAF Super Cup.
With these factors in mind, expect players in the clubs mentioned above to have higher wages than those in mid-table and lower sides.
Position of Play
Some of the highest-paid players in South Africa are either forwards or midfielders.
In fact, of our top ten highest paid players in PSL, three were goalkeepers, one a defender, and the rest were either midfielders or strikers.
Our top four picks were attacking players.
Attacking players command huge salaries due to their influence on the game, creating and scoring goals, directly impacting match outcome and, thus, the team’s overall standing.
While having a great defender or a sweeper-keeper is fantastic, it’s no good if the team doesn’t win a match.
At the end of the season, teams are judged based on league position and the number of titles won, both of which are the difference between making more money and losing money.
We are going to tie this with age and a player’s potential. According to a Salary Expert survey, entry-level footballers with between one to three years of experience earn an average of R160,000, while a player with over eight years of experience gets an average of R265,000.
The difference is due to the fact that experienced players have mastered their craft and take on more responsibility than junior players.
In addition, established players have a proven track record. Clubs can quickly assess the value they add to a team.
A younger player’s potential can be significant and might attract interest from multiple clubs, but their future remains uncertain.
Few players live up to expectations, and clubs want to ensure they get back what they’ve invested in a young, upcoming player.
Now you know the highest-paid players in the PSL. These mouth-watering sums are only a testament to the strength of the South African league, which is why African players no longer have to dream about crossing the Mediterranean to earn big bucks.