There’s no denying that professional football players are among the highest-paid people on the planet. But even among these, there are a few true superstars that are so skilled and so popular among their team and fans that they out-earn almost all their competitors every year.
Argentinian soccer player Lionel Andres Messi, who plays as FC Barcelona’s forward, is the top-paid soccer player ever, earning $111 million, taking home $84 million in wages and winnings, and another $27 million in endorsements. At age 13, Messi transferred to Spain after FC Barcelona agreed to pay for medical treatments, where he eventually led the team to multiple titles. In 2012, he set a record for most calendar year goals. In November 2017, he agreed to an extension with Barcelona to stay with the club through the seasons 2020–21.
Forbes rated Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 as second-highest-paid soccer player and third-highest-paid athlete in the world. Ronaldo took home $61 million in salary and winnings from Real Madrid plus $47, million in sponsorship, totalling $108 million. The Portuguese player has played as a midfielder on national teams Real Madrid and Portugal. Despite missing the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo stayed in the public eye as news broke that he moved to Juventus on a four-year contract with a transfer fee of $140 million. Reportedly, Ronaldo’s net annual compensation is sitting at $35 million.
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, almost exclusively called by his first name, is the third highest-paid soccer player, making $90 million. He makes $73 million in wages and winnings, and $17 million from endorsements. Neymar signed a contract with Paris Saint-Germain in August 2017. Brazil’s forward is in partnership with international brands that include Adidas, Red Bull, and McDonald’s. He was the first soccer player to have Swoosh’s own custom Air Jordan sneakers. Not only does he earn a lot of money, but provides plenty of extra income for the betting industry, similarly to how you can bet on your favourite esports to win top prizes.
Gareth Bale earns $28.6 million through wages, along with $6 million from endorsements. Real Madrid was originally from Wales. Bale scored two goals in May 2018, including an unforgettable kick, leading his team to a third consecutive Champions League win. He agreed a club contract extension in October 2016 until June 2022. Bale also signed an Adidas-backed contract that will extend to 2020.
Paul Pogba is the fifth-highest-paid soccer player, earning $29.5 million every year, which includes the $25 million he receives from his annual salary, winnings, and the $4.5 million he collects through endorsements. Originally from France, the Manchester United player is known for his strengths midfielder. His current five-year contract pays at least a $20 million annual salary.