Not all football stars draw equal attention and it’s not because of their skill set only. When Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably one the biggest football stars, changed his jersey last summer, moving to Juventus after a very successful stint in Real Madrid, the stocks of the Italian club immediately went up 25 per cent.
His move to Juventus didn’t break the market, since the Old Lady paid “just” $140 million, but besides stock price rise, there was ripple effect felt around the league. The fact that shows just how popular is the Portuguese wingman is the number of jerseys sold in the first 24 hours. Juventus sold over 520,000 Ronaldo jerseys. To put things in perspective, Neymar sold 10,000 in the same period after signing for PSG.
The dance of the money also gave dividends to the players that stayed loyal to their clubs like Lionel Messi. The Argentinian couldn’t be left out of the list of the Top 5 highest paid football players.
5. Paul Pogba
The midfielder with impressive stature and speed enjoys a renaissance in Manchester United since the departure of Jose Mourinho. The Red Devils are on the run under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjear and Paul Pogba is enjoying is best season in England, having scored 10 goals already. The versatile French footballer is the highest paid player in the Premier League earning $25 million from the club, and he gets $4.5 million from endorsements.
Pogba was signed in 2016 from Juventus, by $116 million, returning to a team from where he had departed when he was younger. The acquisition of the midfielder, who won the World Cup in Russia last summer, was a record-breaking signing at the time.
4. Gareth Bale
Another record-breaking transfer was the one from Gareth Bale, from England to Spain in 2013. Real Madrid paid Tottenham $103 million for the quick Welsh winger, setting a deadly attacking trio along Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Since joining “Los Blancos” Bale has suffered several injuries who prevented him from getting to his former Portuguese teammate level, but has still won 4 Champions League, 4 Club World Cups and 3 UEFA Super Cup.
Gareth Bale gets $28.6 million from Real in salary and bonuses and $6 million more from endorsements which make him the fourth best-paid footballer in the world.
3. Neymar Jr.
There is one part where the Brazilian forward can brag about which at the time has no rivalry. Neymar had the biggest transfer fee in history so far when he signed for PSG two seasons ago for unreal $263 million and he earns more than Ronaldo if we look at salary, with $73 million a year. The Olympic gold medal is still far behind Ronaldo in endorsements though, with “only” $17 million which puts him in the third spot overall.
In the french giants, he has won almost everything possible last season: league, cup and supercup, but is still missing the Champions League glory he obtained back in Barcelona. Can Neymar lead PSG to their first European title?
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo resume speaks for itself: five time Champions League trophies and five time Ballon D’Or Winner. However, at 34 years old, the portuguese superstar took a pay cut from $66 to $64 annually, when he moved to Juventus last summer. He is still second on this list, even though Neymar earns more in PSG.
The reason are endorsements and Ronaldo continues to be the king on this field, earning $47 million from advertising. Cristiano Ronaldo is in Nike’s corner and some of the other brands that use his popularity are Herbalife and EA Sports.
1. Lionel Messi
After Neymar left Barcelona, Messi signed a new and more lucrative contract until 2021. The Argentinian superstar, who also has 5 Ballon D’Or trophies, won the Champions League 4 times and is a legend for the “blaugrana”. Regarded by most fans as the greatest football player of this era, he earns $667,000 a week, and around $80 million in salary and bonus annually.
Along with $27 million in endorsements, he gets about $111 million every year which makes him the second highest paid athlete in the world, only behind the boxer Floyd Mayweather. Messi has also a career deal with Adidas, with other commercial contracts including Gatorade, Pepsi, and Huawei.