Jermaine Pennant off to Spain to become latest Premier League tax exile - Exclusive
Published 00:00 11/07/09 By By John Cross
Jermaine Pennant has secured a "dream" move to Real Zaragoza after becoming the latest Premier League tax exile.
The former Liverpool winger, 26, has followed this summer's trend of snubbing England in favour of an amazing three-year contract in Spain.
Pennant will earn £45,000-a-week AFTER tax and be given a free villa and car as part of the package.
Spain's new rules mean tax is capped at 40 per cent and big earners can pay as little as 24 per cent tax if they exploit a loophole and acquire "foreign executive" status.
The tax rate is less than half of Britain's 50 per cent tax rate which has prompted Real Zaragoza to pick up Pennant's tax bill.
That allowed them to snatch Pennant ahead of AC Milan, Espanyol and Atletico Madrid, who were all keen to sign one of the most in-demand players in this summer's transfer market.
Any English club wanting to sign Pennant would have had to pay him £90,000-a-week to match the deal he is now getting at Real Zaragoza.
Pennant's decision to leave the Premier League is typical of the shift in power from the Premier League to La Liga this summer.
Top English clubs used to be able to attract Europe's top stars by being the biggest payers.
But now the increase in Britain's tax rate means that players can earn far more abroad and this summer has already seen the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in a stunning £80m move.
Valencia striker David Villa is poised to snub Manchester United in favour of a move to Barcelona while Lyon forward Karim Benzema also turned down Old Trafford in favour of Real Madrid.
The wage bill may still be higher in the Premier League but the tax rules mean that players can take home much more in La Liga and Italy's Serie A. Arsenal playmaker Andrei Arshavin revealed his dismay at discovering his wages were lower than he thought because of the increase in tax.
It means that Arsenal may have struggled to sign Arshavin this summer if a top Spanish club were in the market for him.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has already warned the days of Premier League domination will "soon be over".
Wenger said recently: "The new taxation system, and the collapse of sterling, means the domination of the Premier League will go. That is for sure.
"It will be a financial problem for all the English clubs." Mega-rich Manchester City are bucking the trend with huge contracts on offer for the likes of Carlos Tevez, Samuel Eto'o and John Terry.
But their wealth means that they can afford to pay players such big money that even with 50 per cent tax they will still be rolling in it.
However, for players like Pennant and other top stars in Europe the trend is changing and they can get topclass football and earn big money by moving abroad.
SOME OF THE STARS NOT COMING TO A STADIUM NEAR YOU..
Ronaldo: Turned his back on Manchester United for Real Madrid
Kaka: Manchester City coveted him, but he went to Real Madrid
Karim Benzema: Said non to Manchester United, oui to Real Madrid
David Villa: Liverpool wanted the Valencia man, but Barcelona lie in wait
Raul Albiol: Another Valencia man linked with Liverpool. Went to Madrid.
Maicon: Inter defender linked with Man City and Chelsea, staying at San Siro
Felipe Melo: Arsenal wanted Fiorentina ace, he''s heading for Juventus
Franck Ribery: Linked with Liverpool, but Bayern man wants to join Real - next year.
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