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Highest Paid Footballers

Highest Paid Footballers

Football holds massive global appeal with increasing popularity in the USA, India, and China. Neilson’s research report highlights some of the factors influencing such changes. An increase in youth participation, the expansion of Major League Soccer, and the heightened popularity of FIFA Video caused a surge of interest in the USA.

In 2018 Italy, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France made up 131m of football fans. 52% of the Russian population are football followers. Football attracts a fan base estimated at 4 billion worldwide. Naturally, footballers will reap a handsome reward from such a following.

Let’s take a peek at how much the top five highest paid footballers

1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Football’s Argentinian superstar takes homes home a whopping £960,000 weekly. He ranks first as one of the highest-paid footballers.  In May, and still, with Barcelona, Messi made it to second place on the Forbes list of the highest-paid athletes in 2021. According to this list, Messi’s annual earnings stand at £94.7m, equivalent to $130m.  Radio Times acknowledges that many consider 34-year-old Messi as one of the highest paid footballers of all time.

Messi was about to sign a contract worth £1m a week with his boyhood club, Barcelona. But the deal fell through, ending Messi’s 20 years plus a stint at Barcelona.  However, the football star went on to sign a two-year contract with the French club Paris Saint-Germain. With PSG, Messi’s deal is worth £25m per annum and grosses £50m annually.

But this is not the entire picture. Messi also earns over £1 million a week from bonuses, appearance, and signing fees.  Adidas (£18m), and Pepsi, amongst others, are candidates for sponsorships and endorsement, which adds another £25m to Messi’s pay. It is no wonder then that Messi is rightfully known as “the PSG ace.”

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

He is a Portuguese professional soccer player and the captain of the Portugal national team. Ronaldo is another of the highest paid footballers and takes home approximately £900000 per week. Currently, Ronaldo plays for Serie A club Juventus and ranks third on the Forbes list of the highest-paid athletes.  His annual earnings estimate is $120m ($70m on the field and $50m off the field).

According to a Sky Sports report in 2021, Ronaldo’s stardom in Juventus suffered a slight wobble after an end-of-season failure to win. It is the first time since 2010/11. Ronaldo’s contract with Juventus expires on 30 June 2022, and sources reveal that he might not renew his contract with them.

It could mean an important landmark in the 36-year-old star’s career since Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are looking to sign up the football superstar. Manchester City is eager to have its star player back, so it has offered Ronaldo a salary of £15m after tax and a contract until 2023. Ronaldo’s popularity is down to his achievements and talents. Under his glittering belt are 5 Ballon d’Or awards and 4 European Golden Shoes, plus 32 trophies and league titles in Spain, England, and Italy.

3. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior

At the age of 17, Neymar, a professional Brazilian football player, made his debut. He currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazilian national team. He earns £6000000 per week, ranking him third on the highest paid footballers list. On the Forbes list of highest paid athletes, Neymar takes the sixth position with annual earnings of $95m.

Some background on this superstar football player will explain his high earnings. Paris Saint-Germain bought 25-year-old Neymar from FC Barcelona for the tidy sum of €222 million, the equivalent then of $262,821,000, or £198,757,000. PSG then signed a five-year contract with the budding star.  Neymar smashed the record for the most expensive football player in a single transfer. The previous transfer record stood at £23,000 (approximately $450000 today) when in 1932, River Plate took on Argentinian superstar Bernabe Ferrerya from Tigre.

Off the pitch, the 29-year-old footballer takes up a position on the top 50 most marketable athletes list. Neymar was a brand ambassador for Nike for more than fifteen years. The Sun reports that Neymar dropped Nike and instead signed a mega-contract with the German giant Puma. The boot deal is worth £23m per annum, making the sports sponsorship contract the biggest in history.

4. Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz 

Another highly paid footballer is Luis Suàrez, a professional player from Uruguay who earns approximately £575,000 per week. He is one of the world’s most fantastic strikers and plays for Atlético Madrid and Uruguay’s national team. His talent places him on the list of highest-paid footballers.

Even though there is no information about a 2021 contract, please look at his earning power. In 2014, the betting website 888poker dropped Suárez as the brand ambassador when he was found guilty of biting Giorgio Chiellini. Italy canceled its plans with the star player for his outrageous behavior.  His boot deal with Adidas also collapsed because of his history of biting cases and racist taunts. In, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he was suspended from the games.

Despite this blip in his career, from 2017 to 2018 Luis earned an estimated $70 million in sponsorship deals with lucrative brands. Forbes reports that the talented striker signed a contract with Adidas to launch their “Cold Blooded” collection, alongside Messi and Pogba. In the same year, Luis struck a deal with Gatorade and Tronsmart and the Chinese mobile phone company Gome and Tourism Malaysia.

His prowess as a striker protects Luis against losses in endorsements and sponsorships. He dropped off Forbes’s list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2019. Luis has a proven record of scoring over 500 career goals for both club and country. He won 19 significant trophies and seven league titles, not forgetting a club-level win in the UEFA Champions League. Suárez won two European Golden Shoes, a Premier League Golden Boot, an Eredivisie Golden Boot in Ajax, and the Pichichi Trophy in 2016.   Luiz Suárez remains one of the highest paid footballers.

5. Antoine Griezmann

Like Luis Suárez, the footballer Antoine Griezmann takes home £575,000 per week. He is a French professional who plays for the La Liga club Atlético and is currently on loan from Barcelona. Regarding his transfer to Barcelona and the ensuing drama, the star player earns the fifth position on the highest paid footballers list. He took the exact opposite path from Suárez, transferring from Atlético Madrid to Barcelona. His move to Barcelona was long anticipated, but that did not make it any less dramatic.

According to Radio Times, Griezmann’s transfer was one of the five most expensive in history. The deal cost €120 million, and after the fanfare, Griezmann decided to go back to his former club Atlético. It led to Barca renegotiating the contract. Griezmann is one of the most highly paid players at Camp Nou, and Barcelona has given him back to his home club on a sensational loan deal, with a €40m option for purchase.

The Highest Paid Football Players in England and Europe

You now have an insight into the earning power of the top 5 world superstar footballers. It’s truly mind-blowing what these athletes earn on and off the pitch. Let’s narrow it down somewhat and focus on a more regional approach. Money is not an issue for premier league teams. They are willing to take on big names to increase their earnings. The English Premier League sits in a formidable top position on the list of the ten leading football leagues in the world. However, earning the most wages doesn’t necessarily mean that the player is the best performer.

In the 2019/20 season, Manchester United’s Premier League goalkeeper made the most wages. But the question is, does David de Gea remain the highest paid footballer in England? The list below gives answers and highlights the highest paid football players in England and other top earners in the English Premier League.

1. Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur F.C and earns £31.2 million.

Bale is the highest paid footballer in England’s Premier League, making £600000 per week. Currently, he is playing on a long-term loan from Real Madrid. Bale is from Wales and also plays for the national team, he is the striker.  Reports suggest that Tottenham and Madrid each pay half of the Welshman’s salary. His fans love him for his fast speed, terrific left foot, and remarkable crossing ability.

Bale also makes a significant amount from endorsements and sponsorships. In 2014, he signed a new deal with Adidas worth $26m that ran for 6 years. The talented footballer is not limited to sports signups, he has made partnership deals with Konami, Nissan Motor, and Foot Locker. He makes approximately $11m from these companies.

Bale doesn’t hesitate to participate in charity causes, he was instrumental in a successful “For Luca campaign” that collected $1.9 million to pay for a young boy’s prosthetic legs. Luca Williams suffered from meningitis which caused the loss of his legs.

The Welsh winger is the highest paid footballer in England but he still has a heart for the less privileged.

2. Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City earns £20.8m per year.

Kevin is famed as one of the finest midfielders in Europe and the Premier League. His shooting power, pinpoint passes and detailed eye for goals are impressive. His strengths saw him take the position of vice-captain in the premiership last season.

Reports vary on the 30-year-old midfielder’s earnings, but the suggestion is that his weekly wage is between £375000 and £400000. Despite his disagreements with the Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, the talented footballer is the second highest paid footballer in England.

Manchester City’s talented midfielders also rack in substantial rewards from hefty contracts and endorsement deals. He has signed up with Nike, Orange, and EA Sports. In 2019/20 De Bruyne was voted EA Sports Player of the Season.

3. David De Gea of Manchester United earns £19.5m per year

The 30-year-old Spanish goalkeeper takes home £375000 per week. De Gea has made approximately 300 appearances (if not more) for Manchester United. He played a significant role in the Red Devils’ triumphant performance in the UEFA Europa League and Carling Cup.

He stands as one of the highest-paid players in the 2021 English Premier League. He also plays for his national team Spain, and has gained the status of one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. De Gea also makes substantial earnings from sponsorship. According to Forbes, he is the highest paid goalkeeper globally and makes $3 million in endorsements. He, like Messi and Griezmann, has signed a deal with Adidas. In 2019, Adidas honored the footballer by releasing a unique pair of goalkeeper gloves. It was in celebration of De Gea’s 100th Premier League match.

4. Raheem Sterling of Manchester City earns £15.6m per year

He is probably the highest-paid homegrown English player, with take-home pay of £300000 per week. The 26-year-old plays as a striker and has had sponsorships by big brand names such as Nike. He also features in various commercials for the American giant.

When Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus suffered injuries, it allowed Sterling to play, and his talent shone through. Guardiola kept faith in Raheem and was not disappointed by the young superstar. His performance on the pitch resulted in a wage increase. It resulted in placing him fourth on the same list as the highest paid footballer in England. Sterling has signed an extension with Manchester City, which means he will remain with the team until 2023.

5. Paul Pogba of Manchester United earns £15.08m per year 

Pogba is a French national and plays professional football as a central attacking midfielder for United. He makes and has a weekly take-home pay of £290000. His most significant sponsorship is with Adidas, and they signed him up for a ten-year deal worth £31million. Pogba is a brand ambassador for PepsiCo, and in 2019 Pogba launched his charity, The Pogba Foundation, in Columbia.

Forbes mentions that there is talk about Pogba transferring to Paris Saint-Germain or Juventus. He has only about a year remaining on his contract at Old Trafford. It will be interesting to follow what happens to the earnings of this formidable French midfielder. He still makes his mark alongside some of the highest paid footballers in England.

Just like from the list of highest paid footballers in the world even the highest paid footballer in England earns on and off the pitch. Endorsements and sponsorships influence the footballers’ earning power. It is interesting that some of the players even sign up away from the world of sports. Are you amazed to learn how much clubs are willing to spend on transfers for the most sought-after footballers?

Binding contracts have some of the players tied down to teams they would rather not play for. However, there is room for negotiation which makes the game more intriguing. Because you learn that the footballers can be loaned out and the practice is acceptable worldwide.  Coaches agents and managers each play a crucial role in determining a player’s worth. But you can see that the footballer’s personality, discipline, and physical attributes matter to the fans.

Let’s take a look at what happens with the best footballers in Spain are they also the most highly paid?

Who is on the list for the Highest Paid Footballer in Spain?

Below are some insights on the highest paid footballer in Spain, throughout the season and beyond.  Spain is home to some of the most renowned teams in the football arena.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia are all household names. So naturally, it will nurture some of the world’s best players making them the highest paid footballers. Some of the most prolific former players include Zinedine Zidane, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Maradona, Di Stefano, Ronaldinho and Raul. They are some of the stars of La Liga.

Here is a detailed insight as to what the highest paid footballer in Spain looks like:

1. Lionel Messi, formerly of Barcelona, earns $87.88 million

He takes pole position as one of the highest paid footballers in Spain and the world. The Argentinian talisman has held this position since 2017, after an agreement to extend his stay with Camp Nou to 2021. He attracts a salary of $87m on the pitch. His other earnings come from sponsorships, endorsements, appearances, and bonuses. In total, Messi makes approximately $130m per year.

Messi’s contract with Barcelona expired in June. The 34-year-old Argentinian star player would have loved to stay on with Barcelona, but he cannot renew his contract. In July, Messi had agreed to a reduced wage on a five-year contract, rather than a two-year extension.  Expressly, Messi accepted a 50% pay cut which meant relinquishing a basic pay of €45m net to approximately €20m. But Spanish La Liga regulations posed both “structural and financial” obstacles. In the meantime, PSG and Manchester City were both eyeballing Messi. He is likely to stay the highest paid footballer in Spain for the foreseeable future.

Messi also has a long-term contract with Adidas, which will keep him comfortable for a long time. He has had lucrative partnerships with Turkish Airlines, Pepsi, and Gillette, making Messi a brand ambassador. His contract with some of the above is still ongoing. Each of these deals away from the pitch contributes to the increase in his earning power.

2. Eden Hazard of Real Madrid earns $28.8 million per year

Another superstar on the football stage is Eden Hazard. His skills make him eligible to take a position next to the highest paid footballer in Spain. Eden is a Belgian professional footballer.

He is an attacking midfielder and winger for Real Madrid and the captain of his country’s national team. Behind this player is a hefty money payment for his transfer from Chelsea to Real Madrid.

The 29-year-old remains the youngest footballer to win the impressive “Player of the Year 2014” with the UNFP Ligue 1. Hazard has signed deals with the likes of Nike. He also appeared on the cover page for FIFA 15 in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, and France.

What’s more, in 2016, Hazard was named one of the brand ambassadors for FIFA 17.

Over the years, such partnerships have catapulted Hazard to be in the same league as the highest paid footballer in Spain. As of 2021, this star player’s net worth is a cool $100 million. Another spine-tingling fact is that Eden Hazard earns more than Real Madrid’s captain Sergio Ramos, who is on €15m per annum.

His weekly wage is a staggering £416,000 per week, which is way more than the club legends Toni Kroos (£210,000), Karim Benzema (£166,000) and even Sergio Ramos (£312,000 per week).

Even though Hazard has been plagued with many injuries, he remains a force to be reckoned with on the football field.

Since Hazard is the highest paid player at Real Madrid, he qualifies to grace the same league as the highest paid footballer in Spain.

3. Antoine Griezmann earns $ 27million per year

Messi is at the top of the food chain, earning much more than superstar Griezmann makes. While Griezmann might not be number one, he is the third highest paid footballer in Spain. He plays as a forward for Atlético Madrid on loan from Barcelona after a controversial transfer.

The five-year contract he signed with Barcelona cost the club €120 million, his buy-out fee.

Disputes between his home club Atlético Madrid and Barcelona over the transfer saw the player return to Atlético Madrid on 31 August 2021. His buy-out clause with Atlético was €200 million, and a drop in the initial price caused a significant issue.

Signing the contract with Barcelona placed Griezmann fifth on the list of the highest-paid footballer in 2021, and third on the highest paid footballer in Spain. Sponsorships and media appearances significantly bolster Griezmann’s earnings. Puma offered him sponsorship for commercial appearances, and they even featured Griezmann’s custom bi-coloured Puma football boots. It celebrates the player’s tenth anniversary in the world of football. The boots signify the most defining moments in his football career.

In 2017, he was named brand ambassador for Huawei, although the contract ended in December 2020. On 6 June 2021, Yu-Gi-Oh, a gaming company, named Griezmann as its ambassador. However, the Japanese company is rethinking the deal because Griezmann is participating in a controversial racist video. He remains a brand ambassador for Gillette and Head and Shoulders shampoo.

4. Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona earns £18,434,000 per year

Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for the Netherlands national team. He has signed a deal with Barcelona until the summer of 2026.   He is a shining star at twenty-three as he wins favor with Ronald Koeman, the Dutch manager.  De Jong and Sergio Busquets made impressive passes during the 2020/21.

The young star is rubbing shoulders with some of the best and long-time players like Sergio.  De Jong has the potential for sponsorship with big brand names.  Nike is enthusiastic to portray him as a “Nike Athlete.” However, his fans get a glimpse that De Jong is not a spineless individual. He rejected Nike’s suggestion to have his name on the back of his shirt while playing for Barcelona.

Closing Thoughts

What makes these individuals the highest paid footballers in 2021? It is purely down to merit for their prowess in the various positions, such as striker, midfielder, or goalkeeper. Others have strengths in their attack, defense, and speed. The game itself is a lesson in skill, leadership, discipline, and talent that adds to the intrigue, together with the many international players on display.

The drama behind the complex mechanisms surrounding transfers and renegotiations all add to the fun. Football is an engaging, challenging, and competitive sport. It can bond people together, so it has a worldwide audience that attracts millions of fans of all ages and genders.


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