Wilfredo Leon is among the highest paid volleyball players in the world – that much is a certainty. Previous reports have put his salary around 500,000 (USD), but according to the Slovenia website siol.net, the Cuban wing spiker, still only 23 years old, makes an astounding 1.4 million (USD) annually from his Russian club team Zenit Kazan.
This enormous salary is reflective of the kind of player that Leon has become. After defecting from Cuba in 2013, he signed to play in Russia in 2014 and has become one of the most feared players in the world. Armed with a devastating serve and massive spikes, Leon has helped turn Zenit Kazan into an international powerhouse, winning 3 consecutive CEV Champions League gold medals (2015-2017), receiving the Most Valuable Player in 2015 and 2016, and back-to-back FIVB Club World Championships silver medals (2015-2016). Domestically, Zenit Kazan has dominated in Russia since the arrival of Leon, winning 4 straight Russian Cups and 4 straight Russian Championships.
Volleyball clubs are notoriously secretive about what they pay their top players, so it’s difficult to confirm the news, but in any sense, Leon is among the sport’s highest earners – even without a national team to play for.
Leon, who received his Polish citizenship in 2015, is still awaiting approval from the FIVB before he can represent his new home country at any international competition. In the meantime, he will continue to team up with American wing spiker Matt Anderson and Russian opposite Maxim Mikhaylov as they attempt to continue their dominance in Russia and bring Zenit Kazan their first gold medal in the FIVB Club World Championships.