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Deep pockets

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They say money makes the world go round – and that’s certainly true about the game of football.

Two teams of 11 players kicking a ball around a pitch is big business in every part of the world, although the most amount of cash can be found kicking about in Europe’s top leagues. Footballers’ salaries at the very top end of the game have risen exponentially in recent years, especially following the entrance onto the scene of huge multinationals, oligarchs and oil states as club owners.

Players have also benefitted from the popularity of the game to sign significant endorsement deals, which in a few cases can earn them almost as much as their salary.

It certainly pays to be good at football, but who are the highest-paid players in the world? We’ve put the calculator to good use to work out the 10 stars earning the most from their clubs.


1. Cristiano Ronaldo – $213m/year

Cristiano Ronaldo has become the country’s wealthiest football player with his transfer to Saudi club Al-Nassr, with a lucrative contract that will enable him to earn $200m each year as an Al-Nassr player, and this is just his club’s compensation. Ronaldo has his own apparel and perfume business called CR7, as well as collaborations that pay him $60 million, making him the wealthiest football player and sportsman in the world.


2. Kylian Mbappe – $110m/year

The new captain of the French national team certainly deserves his place towards the top of this list thanks to his dazzling displays for club and country.

Kylian Mbappe signed a mega three-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the 2022 summer transfer window, which reportedly gives him a say in how the club is run, but continues to be linked with a blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

3. Lionel Messi – $65m/year

Lionel Messi joined PSG on a free transfer in 2021 after his surprise exit from Barcelona and became one of the club’s biggest earners alongside Mbappe and Neymar. Messi’s yearly compensation is $65m, however, that is not it. The 35-year-old earns $48 million by endorsing major products such as watches, Fizzy, pop, telecommunications, sportswear, sports drink, beer, video games, an oil state, and crisps.

Although, his time at PSG might be coming to an end after his contract expires in the summer of 2023. That might mean that the Argentine World Champion might drop down the list.


4. Neymar Jr – $55m/year

Paris Saint-Germain are responsible for dishing out the biggest contracts in European football and Neymar was the first big signing of their Qatar-owned era when joining from Barcelona for a then-world-record fee in 2017.

The Brazilian committed his long-term future to the French capital club when signing a four-year deal towards the end of the 2020/21 season.


5. Mohamed Salah – $35m/year

Salah is the fifth most-paid footballer, earning $35m a year as a Liverpool player. Salah has won everything at Liverpool and also renewed his contract in the summer of 2022 for a large salary hike. He also makes a lot from brand endorsements and is one of Adidas’ top athletes, earning 18 million from marketing the company.


6. Erling Haaland – $35m/year

The Manchester City goal machine has quickly emerged as one of the hottest properties around and has been worth every penny to Pep Guardiola thanks to his record-breaking efforts on the pitch.

The payroll staff at the Etihad Stadium must regularly dig deep into the club’s coffers to pay the goal bonuses inserted into Erling Haaland’s contract.


7. Robert Lewandowski – $27m/year

After leaving Bayern Munich in 2022, the Polish striker is having a productive first season at Barcelona. His form hans’t wavered in that period, as he tops the scoring charts with most goals in La Liga, and has further cemented his status as one of the greatest strikers in Europe.

As any team would like, Barcelona had to shell out $55m to match Bayern’s valuation of the player. The 34-year-old earns a significant amount of money from clubs and sponsorships. With 27 million from Barcelona and eight endorsements for Nike, as well as his own clothing line, RL9.


8. Eden Hazard – $27m/year

It’s fair to say Eden Hazard’s move to Real Madrid in 2019 hasn’t exactly worked out how the Belgian winger expected.

While he’s collected a few trophies and plenty of cash in that time, the former Chelsea star has failed to make more than 23 appearances in a single season with injuries and poor form seeing him regularly left out of the starting XI.


9. Andres Iniesta – $25m/year

Iniesta, one of the finest midfielders, has long since left Barcelona, but the player continues to make money from his current team, Vissel Kobe. Iniesta, 38, is the oldest player on the list, earning $25m a year. While a small part of his income comes via the various other resources that have been generated from endorsements, the footballer has created his own apparel business, Capitten.


10. Kevin De Bruyne – $25m/year

Kevin De Bruyne has been worth every penny for Manchester City following a £55million transfer from Wolfsburg in 2015.

The midfield magician has helped the Sky Blues to 10 major trophies during that spell and became the club’s top earner when signing a long-term contract extension in April 2021. Although, his earnings are not solely from Manchester City – the player promotes a number of major firms, including Nike, Wow Hydrate, Credit Karma, and Therabody.



Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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