Highest Paid Soccer Players in History

The list of the highest paid soccer players in the world always draws a lot of attention due to the millions of dollars involved. Here, we'll give you the highest rankings!
Highest Paid Soccer Players in History

Last update: 30 December, 2020

Every year, Forbes magazine publishes a list of the athletes who have the highest incomes. For many sports fans, one thing that grabs their attention is that in the top five spots there are three soccer players! In the middle of the top five, we find some of the best paid soccer players in history. So who are they?

Each time there’s a new contract signing in soccer, many fans are surprised to see the astronomical sums of money that the players are offered, and how these sums of money increase year after year. Even more surprising is seeing what certain players have amassed over their entire career.

Who are the highest-paid soccer players in history?

The internationally recognized Forbes magazine is charged every year with compiling a list of the best paid athletes in the world each season. This year, at the top of the list is tennis player Roger Federer, and the fifth place goes to basketball player Lebron James. However, in between these two players are three soccer players.

If we compare the salaries of athletes these days to athletes in the past, present-day athletes without a doubt, earn much more than they did historically. This includes soccer players. That’s why in this list, you won’t find the great legends of soccer’s past, but instead, you’ll find today’s greats.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

With a whopping 105 million dollars in total, Cristiano Ronaldo has earned (in his last season) a 60 million dollar salary in addition to the 45 million dollars he brings in from publicity contracts. With this income, the Portuguese player earns the second spot on the Forbes list of best paid athletes in the world. He only trails tennis star Roger Federer.

In addition to his salary, Cristiano has managed to come in at fourth place on the list of 100 Top Celebrities of 2020. This is due in large part to his immense number of fans and followers on social media.

2. The highest paid soccer players: Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, also known as Leo, comes in in second place on the list of highest-paid soccer players. This is by a slim margin of only one million dollars compared to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Argentine soccer player earns a salary of 72 million dollars, including his bonuses. He also earns roughly 32 million dollars for his publicity contracts, which brings his total earnings to 104 million dollars. 

Lionel Leo Messi Barcelona

On the other hand, Leo Messi is also on Forbes’ list of Top 100 Celebrities of 2020. He comes in at number five, thanks to his sponsorship deals with brands such as Adidas, Gatorade, Mastercard, Huawei, and Pepsi.

3. Neymar Jr.

The Brazilian player comes in fourth place on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes and third amongst soccer players. In fact, his salary is higher than that of Cristiano Ronaldo, earning a whopping 70.5 million dollars. However, he earns less for his publicity contracts: 25 million dollars. This brings his total earnings to 95.9 million dollars last season.

Neymar Jr. also brings in a list of high profile sponsors. Amongst them, we can name Gillette, Mastercard, Nike, and Red Bull. He comes in at number seven on Forbes’ Top 100 Celebrities of 2020.

4. Highest paid soccer players: Mohamed Salah

We have to travel way down the list of Forbes’ highest-paid athletes to find the next soccer player. Coming in at number 34, we find Egyptian player Mohamed Salah, whose salary of 35.1 million dollars is nothing to sneer at.

Mohamed Salah Egypt

This income comes from his 32.1 million dollar salary and the 12 million dollars that he brought in from advertising. His sponsors are Adidas, Vodafone, and DHL International, among others. Though he comes in in last place, he also made Forbes’ list of Top 100 Celebrities of 2020.

5. Kylian Mbappé

Coming in in fifth place of the best-paid soccer players in history is Kylian Mbappé. This French player, originally from Cameroon, is part of the Paris Saint Germain team.

Mbappé earned 33.8 million dollars in income this year: 20.8 million dollars came from his salary at PSG, and 13 million came from his advertising contracts. His primary big-name sponsors are Nike and Hublot. On Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes, he comes in at number 36.

6. Andrés Iniesta

Andres Iniesta Barcelona

The Spanish soccer player, known for his trajectory at FC Barcelona, earned an income of 29.6 million dollars this year. He comes in at number 46 on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes. Of this total income, 26.6 million dollars came from his salary at FC Barcelona, and the other three million dollars came from his advertising contracts. In fact, some income was also generated from his own business in sports socks.

7. Highest paid soccer players: Mesut Özil

Finally, another one of soccer’s highest-paid athletes in history is Mesut Özil, who comes in at number 49 on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes. The German player, with Turkish ancestry, currently plays for the English Arsenal team. His earnings from this past year are a total of 28.7 million dollars: 23.2 million of this comes from his salary, and 5.5 million comes from his advertising contracts. His most high profile contracts are with Mercedes-Benz and Adidas.

To close the list of the highest-paid soccer players, we have to also mention Paul Pogba, who earned 28.5 million dollars, Antonie Griezmann who earned 26.7 million dollars, David de Gea at 25.7 million dollars, Alexis Sánchez at 25.6 million dollars, Gareth Bale at 25.2 million dollars, and Sergio Ramos at 21.8 million dollars. As you can see from this list, they’re all superstars of the world’s most popular sport.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.