- Who’s the world’s highest–paid soccer player? We’ve got the answers to those questions and many more, including a breakdown of some of the most popular leagues. Just keep reading below to find out.
The Highest–Paid Soccer Player in 2021 and the Top Four Earners
With somewhere between 3-4 billion fans, soccer is the most popular sport globally. And with popularity comes rewards. Soccer players make millions, but which ones are the best? Take a look at the top 5:
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United – $125 million
Cristiano Ronaldo took the crown as the highest–paid soccer player in 2021. Both he and Messi moved to new clubs over the summer, but Ronaldo’s new contract moved him into the first spot.
He earns $55 million from endorsements and $70 million from salary and bonuses. Ronaldo has earned over $1billion over his career, making him the first soccer player to do so.
2. Lionel Messi, PSG – $110 million
Messi started the year at the No.1 spot with $130 million in earnings. But his shocking move to Paris Saint-Germain (also known as PSG) moved him to No.2.
While Ronaldo overtook him, Messi still has the highest salary for a soccer player — $75 million, including base salary and bonuses.
Ronaldo and Messi have been fighting for the best player award in soccer throughout their careers, and the race off-field is very tight.
3. Neymar Jr., PSG – $95 million
Considered by many as the heir to Ronaldo and Messi, Neymar has always drawn the spotlight. Whether due to his phenomenal skills or due to the antics on and off the field, Neymar is always in the papers.
In 2021, the third best–paid soccer player earned $75 million in on-field earnings and $20 million in endorsements.
4. Kylian Mbappe, PSG – $43 million
Mbappe has impressed the world more than once since he turned 17, and at 19, we won the World Cup.
He is considered by many to be the future of soccer, and unsurprisingly, he’s one of the top paid soccer players. Mbappe earns $28 million on-field and $15 million in endorsements.
5. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – $41 million
The Egyptian King is the fifth most paid soccer player in the world. Winning the Champions League and then the Premier League will surely give you a bump in pay. Salah’s earnings came from $25 million on-field and $16 million in endorsements.
The Highest–Paid Soccer Players Around the World
Now you know who the top earners are, but how much do the top players earn in the most popular leagues?
If not, we’ve got you covered. We’ve selected the top earners from England, Spain, Italy, and the MLS.
The highest–paid Premier League players
The Premier League is arguably the most-watched and famous league in the soccer world. No wonder, so many of the most paid soccer players play there. Take a look at some of the highest salaries.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United – $35.99 million per year
Ronaldo moved back to where it all started over the summer. He wasn’t happy at Juventus and wanted a change. And where better than in United?
The Portuguese even took a pay cut to make the move. Even with that, he is Premier League’s highest–paid soccer player in 2021.
2. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – $27.57 million per year
The 2020 Premier League player of the season, Kevin De Bruyne, takes the top spot.
He has recently signed a four-year $27.57 (£20.02) million contract that kicks in from the next season. That’s an increase from the $25.06 (£18.2) million he currently earns.
3. David De Gea, Manchester United – $26.85 million per year
When it comes to goalkeepers, De Gea is the most–paid soccer player. As a part of a six-year deal, he earns $26.85 (£19.5) million per year. And that shouldn’t come as a shock, as he plays for the third richest soccer club, Manchester United, known to pay big salaries.
4. Jadon Sancho, Manchester United – $24.7 million per year
After impressing at Borussia Dortmund and being linked with United for a couple of years, Sancho finally moved to the Red Devils this summer and earned a contract that puts him at No.4
5. Raphael Varane, Manchester United – $24 million per year
It seems like the highest–paid footballers (as they call them over the Atlantic) in the Premier League all play in one of the Manchester teams.
After four Champions League titles at Real Madrid, Varane decided to change scenery and try out the Premier League. His experience has earned him a massive $24 million contract that ranks him fifth.
The highest–paid Italian soccer player and the top four earners
Who doesn’t love Italy? The food, history, and culture attract many players, so it’s no wonder some of the highest-paid ones play in the country. Let’s take a look at the salaries these players receive.
1. Matthijs de Ligt, Juventus – $9.26 million per year
Juventus is the richest club in Italy and has the highest average soccer player salary.
So, it’s not a surprise that the No.1 player comes from Juventus.
De Ligt might be only 21 years old, but he’s already reached the top with his $9.47 million yearly salary.
2. Christian Eriksen, Inter – $8.68 million per year
The next highest–paid football player per year in Italy, Eriksen, was the most talked-about player at the Euro 2020, but not for the best of reasons.
He collapsed on the field due to a heart attack. While he’s okay now, we don’t know how seriously he will play in the future.
Eriksen is now the highest earner at Inter, without even playing due to his condition. Even while he was playing, most fans can agree he wasn’t as pivotal in the team’s success and had a rather up-and-down time in the club.
3. Paulo Dybala, Juventus – $8.45 million per year
With the departure of Ronaldo, Argentine Dybala has once again become the center of Juve’s attack. He is also the owner of the third highest-paid soccer player salary in Italy.
His performances have been up and down over the last few years, but with the departure of the Portuguese, many fans are hoping that Dybala will find his former self.
The Argentine’s contract expires in 2022, and the club wants to keep him, so don’t be surprised if he moves up on our list.
4. Aaron Ramsey, Juventus – $8.1 million per year
Another Juve player takes the No.4 spot. Former Arsenal man, Aaron Ramsey, has not made the impact the team had hoped. Being one of Italy’s highest-paid soccer players in 2020 and 2021, his performance should be better.
It’s no wonder he’s no longer part of the coach’s plans and is linked with a move soon.
5. Adrien Rabiot, Juventus – $8.1 million per year
The fifth highest–paid soccer player in Italy is once again from Juventus. Frencham Rabiot has been a good contributor for the team, but like Ramsey, he hasn’t shined as much as fans and the team would’ve liked.
In France, he was involved in scandals, including his exit from PSG and refusal to be in the French team’s reserve team for the World Cup. Since moving to Italy, he’s stayed out of the spotlight and tried to focus on his team.
The highest–paid soccer player in Spain and the top four earners
Spain has long been a desired destination for many players. Some of the most famous, rich, and successful teams, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, come from Spain.
Read below for the highest earners in the country.
1. Gareth Bale, Real Madrid – $33 million per year
After Messi left Barcelona, Bale took the title of the highest–paid soccer player in Spain.
Bale has been at Real since 2013 but has been hit by injuries throughout the whole period. When fit, he showed his speed and technique and was part of Real’s lethal BBC (Benzema, Bale, Cristiano) attack.
He’s been in and out of the team over the last few seasons, and Real has tried to offload him without luck. His contract is up at the end of the season, and it will be a miracle if it’s renewed.
2. Eden Hazard, Real Madrid – $28.8 million per year
When Eden Hazard came to Real Madrid, he was thought to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s successor as the team’s star.
That’s why the club made him one of the top paid soccer players in the world. Unfortunately, multiple injuries have prevented Hazard from showcasing his talents so far.
3. Frenkie de Jong, Barcelona – $25.48 million per year
At 23, Frenkie de Jong is a superstar of the future. He impressed the audience while playing for Ajax in the Netherlands, and Barcelona came looking for him.
He got to play in his favorite childhood club while being one of the highest–paid soccer players. Now that’s a dream come true.
With Messi gone, he took the No.1 spot in Barca’s salary ladder and the expectations to lead the team into the future.
4. Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid – $21 million per year
(Give me Sport)
Griezmann made a shocking transfer deadline day move back to his former club. The turmoil at Barcelona and the fans never accepting him were leading causes.
The Frenchman even took a substantial pay cut to move back to Atleti. Even with that, he’s still the team’s best–paid soccer player. So far, it’s been a slow start, but fans are hoping he’ll re-discover his form from his first stint with the club.
5. Luis Suarez, Atletico Madrid – $19.87 million per year
(Give me sport)
Suarez was famously chased out of Barcelona by coach Koeman in 2020. Many believed it was because of his salary and not sporting form. The player came out publicly and criticized the way he was treated.
He was let go for free, and Suarez went on and signed with Atletico, making him the highest–paid soccer player in the team at the time.
The Uruguayan went on and won the title with Atleti in 2021 and was among the top scorers in La Liga, proving Barcelona was wrong.
How does the highest–paid MLS soccer player compare to Europe? A list of the top earners
So, how does the MLS compare to European soccer in terms of salary?
Unlike Europe, the MLS has a pay scale and structure set by the league. In addition, teams rely heavily on recruitment from the NCAA and college players.
Read below to find out the top earners:
1. Carlos Vela, Los Angeles FC – $6.3 million per year
Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela takes the crown in the MLS. The Mexican international is the highest–paid soccer player in America with total compensation of $6.3 million per year, of which $4.5 million is in salary.
2. Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, Los Angeles Galaxy – $6 million per year
Another Mexican international who plays in Los Angeles, Chicharito, takes the No.2 on the list. Unlike Vela, though, his $6 million earnings all come in salary.
3. Gonzalo Higuain, Inter Miami – $5.8 million per year
Last year’s newcomers Inter Miami have added some star players to their roster, and arguably the most famous one is Gonzalo Higuain.
The Argentine striker is the third highest–paid soccer player in the USA with earnings of $5.8 million, with $5.1 million in salary.
4. Alejandro Pozuelo, Toronto FC – $4.7 million per year
We go across the border to Canada and Toronto for the fourth highest–paid professional soccer player in the MLS. The Spanish midfielder makes $4.7 million per year, with $3.8 million in base salary.
Who is the highest–paid US soccer player?
USMNT and Chelsea F.C. player Christian Pulisic is the highest-paid US player. Pulisic earns $11.43 million per year.
We should mention that his transfer to Chelsea in 2019 was worth $72.96 million, the highest for any US soccer player.
Who was the highest-paid soccer player in 2020?
Leo Messi was the highest-paid soccer player in 2020, with earnings of $126 million, including $34 million in endorsements and $92 million in salary and bonuses.
How much do soccer players make?
Average compensation varies significantly between different leagues.
The English Premier League has the highest average salary, with $3.97 million per year, followed by Spanish La Liga, with $2.55 million, Italian Serie A, with $2.33 million, and Germany’s Bundesliga — $1.98 million.
In comparison, the MLS has an average salary of $411,000 per year.
Who is the highest–paid female soccer player?
Unfortunately, women’s soccer is very underpaid compared to men’s.
The latest data shows that USWNT star Carli Lloyd is the highest–paid women’s soccer player, with an annual salary of $518,000. That is 272 times lower than Leo Messi’s salary.
Even though the US women’s national team has won multiple world and Olympic titles and is a dominating force in the sport, they are paid much less than their male counterparts and currently are in a fierce lawsuit over equal pay.
Let’s hope we see a change.
Who is the highest–paid soccer player in South Africa?
Samir Nurkovic from the Kaizer Chiefs is the highest-paid player in South Africa.
He recently signed a new contract worth around $801,500 per year (not including bonuses) based on exchange rates at the time of writing.
(The South African)
Who is the highest–paid Mexican soccer player?
Raul Jimenez, who plays in English Premier League’s Wolverhampton Wanderers, is the highest-paid Mexican player with a yearly salary of $8.3 million.
How much does Cristiano Ronaldo get in salary?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s salary is $35.99 million, but that is just a part of his revenue.
His total earnings are $125 million, including $55 million in endorsements and a total of $70 million of on-field earnings (salary plus bonuses and incentives).
How much does Messi make a year?
Leo Messi earns $120 million per year. He is the second-highest-paid soccer player in the world currently.
He entered the year as No.1, but his shocking exit from Barcelona and move to PSG moved him down a spot.
Soccer is the global leader in viewership and popularity among sports. With high interest and viewership come TV and marketing revenues, allowing players to earn high salaries.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s highest–paid soccer player, earns a staggering $125 million per year, and his rival, Leo Messi, comes second with earnings of $110 million.
After reading this article, we are sure you are much more knowledgeable about pay in global soccer.