Football is arguably the most popular and lucrative sport globally, and those few lucky ones who earn a place in the best teams do make astronomical salaries.
Sponsorships, modelling campaigns, and promoted social media content offer additional revenue streams to push those numbers even higher.
So, just how much do the highest paid soccer players make?
Read on to find out!
The Top 10 Earning Footballers in the World
Without any further ado, here are the most paid football players at this moment.
- Date of birth: 5 February 1985
- Clubs: Sporting Lisbon, Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United
- National team: Portugal
- Estimated earnings: $125 million
He is the highest-paid footballer in the world, and the first-ever to make $1 billion (before taxes), making him the best-paid team athlete too.
Cristiano’s own CR7 branded line, various businesses, as well as a sponsorship deal with world-famous brands like Nike, have helped him make a bigger fortune than his on-field salary—amounting to around $55 million yearly endorsements.
Nonetheless, his fortune is well deserved as he was, is, and will remain one of the sport’s greats who have won uncountable trophies on personal and team levels.
- Date of birth: 24 June 1987
- Clubs: Barcelona, PSG
- National team: Argentina
- Estimated earnings: $110 million
Lionel Messi is arguably the best football player the world has ever seen and the current and record Ballon d’Or winner. The Argentinien has won the award an unprecedented seven times so far.
Just as he has been overcoming Ronaldo in-game stats and broken records, he has also been increasing his profits to match those of the Portuguese wonder.
Currently, Messi is playing for PSG on a very lucrative deal, in addition to profiting from his collaborations with Adidas, Beko, Pepsi, and Budweiser, among others.
- Date of birth: 5 February 1992
- Clubs: Barcelona, FC Santos, PSG
- National team: Brasil
- Estimated earnings: $95 million
In addition to his spectacular moves on the pitch and having one of the hottest girlfriends in football, Neymar is a superstar in marketing his image and brand to profit off the field.
Even before he became the third most followed athlete on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, Neymar had signed mega-brand sponsorships with companies such as Puma and KONAMI.
However, what makes Neymar one of the best-paid footballers on the planet is his record-breaking transfer fee of almost $250 million in 2017.
Did you know: Neymar has more than 40 tattoos on his body?
- Date of birth: 20 December 1998
- Clubs: Monaco, PSG
- National team: France
- Estimated earnings: $43 million
Mbappé is hailed as the next king of football after Messi and Ronaldo retire, and with good reason: he’s only 22 years of age and has won a plethora of trophies.
He became one of the highest-paid football players in the world after his stellar move to PSG from Monaco in 2018 for a sum of over $200 million.
Right now, he is raking in around $15 million from various endorsements with Nike, Hublot, and EA SPORTS, and is yet to reach his full potential. Finally, he is also one of the most followed football players on Instagram and other social media platforms.
- Date of birth: 15 June 1992
- Clubs: Al Mokawloon, Basel, Chelsea, Fiorentina, Roma, Liverpool
- National team: Egypt
- Estimated earnings: $41 million
This virtuoso player is a natural-born goalscorer whose incredible speed has helped him get to 100 goals faster than any other professional footballer.
For the last couple of seasons, Salah has been the driving force for both his club and his national team, which is why he is rated as one of the best Premier League players today.
For instance, he has been the most expensive Egyptian player ever since his $50 million Liverpool transfer in 2017, along with his $15 million worth of endorsements, propelled him near the top of the most-paid football players list.
- Date of birth: 21 August 1988
- Clubs: Delta Warsaw, Legia Warsaw, Znicz Pruszkow, Lech Poznan, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich
- National team: Poland
- Estimated earnings: $35 million
Title after title, Lewandowski is not stopping anytime soon, despite his veteran status, and his career has slowly but surely exploded ever since he joined one of the most valuable sports teams, Bayern Munich back in 2014.
His current club contract (ending in 2023) is worth around $400,000 per week, and he is valued at more than $100 million.
Moreover, his endorsements include deals with names such as Huawei, Nike, EA Games, and Opel, among others, which bring him around $8 million per year.
- Date of birth: 11 May 1984
- Clubs: Barcelona, Vissel Kobe
- National team: Spain (retired)
- Estimated earnings: $35 million
Nobody in the football world thought Iniesta would ever leave Barcelona after spending 22 years as one of the team’s pillars of success, winning countless accolades along the way.
Then, as his career was coming to a close in 2018, he signed a very profitable deal with Vissel Kobe, where his pre-tax salary amounts to $31 million, with an additional $4 million in various endorsements.
The Japanese side, however, is getting their money’s worth as Iniesta has helped them win numerous cups and qualify for Asia’s top competitions.
- Date of birth: 15 March 1993
- Clubs: Juventus, Manchester United
- National team: France
- Estimated earnings: $34 million
High on our list of the world’s top-earning footballers is also Paul Pogba, the French wunderkind who has helped both Juventus and the Red Devils win numerous titles.
Right now, Pogba is earning his impressive $27 million paychecks alongside football greats such as CR7 and Raphael Varane. Now that’s the real challenge!
However, that’s not all! Pogba is also earning an additional $7 from endorsements with brands such as Adidas and Qatar Airways.
- Date of birth: 16 July 1989
- Clubs: Tottenham, Real Madrid
- National team: Wales
- Estimated earnings: $32 million
Besides being one of the fastest athletes in the world, this fantastic left-footed Welshman once held the title of the most expensive footballer in history when he transferred from Tottenham to Real Madrid for a sum of $101 million.
Despite his lack of playing time in recent years, Bale is still making around $26 million a year, plus $6 million coming from various endorsements with Konami, Nissan, and Foot Locker.
Currently, he’s in his last season with Real Madrid, and while the future might be uncertain, he has already made his mark as one of the best-paid footballers globally.
Also read: Is Gareth Bale the fastest footballer?
- Date of birth: 7 January 1991
- Clubs: Lille, Chelsea, Real Madrid
- National team: Belgium
- Estimated earnings: $29 million
After Eden Hazard made his name playing for Chelsea, Real Madrid showed interest in signing him and finally concluded the deal in 2019 for a monumental $118 million fee.
In addition to his annual $26 million paycheck, Hazard is earning around $3 million from endorsement deals with brands such as Nike, Nissan, and McDonalds.
However, despite becoming one of the most-paid football players in the world, this Belgian wonder has not been playing consistently for a while, and Real Madrid is looking to cut his contract short.
As we’ve seen, a few players make significantly more than the rest. Some of them earned long-standing contracts, while others know how to build a brand and market themselves. What is clear is that soccer is a lucrative sport and the highest-paid soccer players are reaping the benefits.
Do you think player salaries will continue to rise? Time will tell.