Top Paid Soccer Stars
Messi. Ronaldo. Neymar. These stars need no introduction. But what do the three of them have in common? Outside the field, they couldn’t be more different. Ronaldo and Neymar lead a more open lifestyle and are fond of playing poker at online casinos. Messi, not so much. But give them a soccer ball and they all shine. They are the highest paid soccer players in the world, and, undoubtedly, the best.
Let’s take a look at the top three highest paid soccer idols.
1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona – $126m
Salary: $92M | Endorsements: $34m
Lionel Messi is not only the highest paid soccer player; he also earns the highest salary of any athlete in the world. Add to that a lifetime deal with Adidas and partnerships with Gatorade, Pepsi, Mastercard, and Huawei and the result is a whopping 126 million dollars.
This soccer idol, nicknamed the Atomic Flea (or La Pulga, in Spanish) for his diminutive stature, has been considered world best from the very beginning. Since his 2004 debut with Barcelona, Messi has been a magician in the field— six times Ballon d’Or winner, ten times La Liga title winner, four times Champions League winner, and more.
Undeniably Barca’s most valuable player, the Argentinean has transformed his soccer team from Spain’s second best to one of the world’s most recognized and valuable brand names. Lucky for them, the life-long Barca player is set to extend his contract that ends in June 2021 for two more years.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus – $117m
Salary: $70M | Endorsements: $47m
The debate over who is the world’s best player, Ronaldo or Messi, keeps raging. But let’s talk numbers. While Cristiano Ronaldo earns less (his salary is actually the third highest in soccer) his endorsements are out of this world. Why? One word: Popularity. Cristiano Ronaldo is popular and it is not only due to his quick smile and chiselled body.
The Portuguese Juventus striker is his own brand—CR7. He is also the person with more social media followers on Instagram and Facebook in the world—he has 457 million followers! How could brands not want to partner with him? His endorsements include a lifetime deal with Nike as well as partnerships with Herbalife, Altice, and Clear Shampoo.
Aside from his larger-than-life persona, Cristiano Ronaldo is first a soccer player. One of the best of all time. As of 2020, he has scored 128 goals, and is the all-time top scorer in the UEFA Champions League. He led Real Madrid (his previous team) to four UEFA Champions League titles between 2013 and 2015 (that is 4 out of 5, for those keeping score).
Transferring to Juventus in 2018 only brought more success. He scored 21 goals right off the bat (err, field?) and won the inaugural Serie A Most Valuable Player award.
3. Neymar Jr., Paris-St. Germain – $96m
Salary: $78M | Endorsements: $18m
Third best? While Neymar is a soccer idol without question, he has never won Player of the Year. Messi and Ronaldo have won it a combined eleven times, basically every year since the two have been playing professionally. Still, Brazilian-born Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is doing a lot of things right—three times Top Scorer, Champions League winner, and Olympic medalist, amongst many other titles and recognitions.
Recently, he is mostly known for the transfer that shook the world. In August of 2017, Paris Saint-Germain paid $263 million to Barcelona to acquire him. The most expensive transfer fee in soccer history. He now earns $78 million in France and partners with Puma, Red Bull, EA Sports, Mastercard, and others.
After Neymar, the pay (while still impressive) drops quite a bit. Coming in fourth and fifth place are Kylian Mbappe of Paris-St. Germain with $42 million and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool with $37 million. Not bad, but still less than half of Messi’s gold standard.