Premier League

Who is the highest-paid footballer in the world?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the leading 10 footballers by pay - with the top three well clear of the pack.

9:48pm on Monday 4th January 2021
Robin Bairner

The quest to become the highest-paid player in the world game is not a goal that most stars begin their career aiming for.

Team success is the driving force behind the motivations of most players, with individual glory coming second. Even then, it is prizes such as the Ballon d’Or that young footballers dream of.

Nevertheless, becoming the best renumerated star on the planet holds its own kudos, particularly when the game’s leading exponents have been trading blow for blow over the course of almost their entire careers.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have traded the game’s biggest individual awards over the course of the last decade, and it is therefore no surprise that the two superstars head this list.

It is Messi who comes out on top, posting total earning of $126 million, with a salary of $92m and endorsements worth $34m.

His ability to remain in top spot, however, hangs in the balance. His deal with Barcelona is up at the end of June and the Catalans are under pressure to cut their wage bill. Either he will have to take a dramatic cut to his earnings or move elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo is further back on $117m. His wages of $70m are dramatically eclipsed by Messi, but he almost makes up the shortfall with endorsements of $47m. Sponsored by the likes of Herbalife and Nike, Ronaldo’s sponsorship money is greater than anyone else in the game by $13m.

Coming in third is Neymar. The Brazil international star earns $96m per year, the majority of which arrives from his bumper deal with Paris Saint-Germain, which gives him a salary of $78m. Only Messi earns more. Meanwhile, his sponsorship value is worth a hefty $18m.

The top three are in a league of their own, with even Neymar’s earnings twice that of team-mate Kylian Mbappe, who comes in fourth. The PSG striker reportedly earns $42m per year. His salary at PSG is currently $28m – although that is likely to head upwards as he negotiates a new deal – while his endorsements are worth exactly half of that.

Mohamed Salah rounds out the top five as the Premier League’s top earner, netting $37m per season, $3m more than Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Antoine Griezmann of Barcelona and Gareth Bale of Real Madrid come next, followed by Robert Lewandowski, the winner of The Best FIFA Male Player 2020.

Manchester United’s David De Gea rounds of the top 10 as the game’s best-pad goalkeeper.

Who are the best paid footballers?

Football's top earners

NameClubEarnings ($m
Lionel MessiBarcelona126
Cristiano RonaldoJuventus117
Kylian MbappePSG42
Mohamed SalahLiverpool37
Paul PogbaMan Utd34
Antoine GriezmannBarcelona33
Gareth BaleTottenham (on loan from Madrid29
Robert LewandowskiBayern Munich28
David De GeaMan Utd27

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