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Richest soccer players

James Gill – Danehouse // Getty Images

Richest soccer players

Back view of Cristiano Ronaldo during a match

Between a Netflix docuseries and a metaverse game in the works, the celebration of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is just the latest reminder that soccer is the most popular sport in the world with great players earning top-tier salaries. But who are the wealthiest?

Using data from Celebrity Net Worth and other sources such as ESPN, Stacker compiled net worth data as well as life and career insights from the richest current and former soccer players in the world as of Oct. 28, 2022. Data points include net worth, salary, age, nationality, and soccer teams where they have played. Some players, such as Dave Whelan, have a significant net worth that doesn’t come directly from playing soccer. Others moved into managing after their days on the pitch.

Those who rank high on the list have primarily been in the top teams or leagues, including those from the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Italy, and France. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Milan, and Manchester United are the teams shelling out most of the money to these top soccer players.

All of the wealthiest soccer players are men. Soccer, like many other sports, has a huge gender pay gap. According to research from Bloomberg Law, women still earn 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. Last February, U.S. Soccer agreed to pay $24 million to the U.S. Women’s National Team players for gender pay disparities.

Wage gaps are just one of many discriminatory practices women face in soccer. Just a few years ago, internationally renowned soccer team FC Barcelona made headlines when, during an international tour that featured men’s and women’s teams together, men flew in business class while women flew economy. 

Players listed come from Spain, France, Brazil, England, and more. These figures show why soccer can be a lucrative career choice for athletes worldwide.

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Quality Sport Images // Getty Images

#15. Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Etoo looks on during a friendly match

– Net worth: $95 million
– Salary: $26 million
– Nationality: Cameroon
– Date of birth: Mar 10, 1981 (41 years old)
– Teams: Real Madrid (Spain), Leganés (Spain), Espanyol (Spain), Mallorca (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Inter Milan (Italy), Anzhi Makhachkala (Russia), Chelsea (United Kingdom), Everton (United Kingdom), Sampdoria (Italy), Antalyaspor (Turkey), Konyaspor (Turkey), Qatar SC (Qatar)

Samuel Eto’o retired in 2019 after a career of 22 years, four Championship League titles, and even an Olympic gold medal. While Eto’o has played in fields throughout the world, he has experienced his share of racism, fielding derogatory chanting and racist comments while he was on the pitch. The Cameroonian joined Real Madrid’s academy system when he was 16 and is now considered one of the best strikers of all time.

Quality Sport Images // Getty Images

#14. Raúl González Blanco (tie)

Raul Gonzalez Blanco of Real Madrid Legends celebrates scoring

– Net worth: $100 million
– Salary: not available
– Nationality: Spain
– Date of birth: 1977 (45 years old)
– Teams: Real Madrid (Spain), Schalke 04 (Germany), Al Sadd (Qatar), New York Cosmos (United States)

Raúl González Blanco’s fame is so stratospheric that he’s simply known as Raúl. Football manager Pep Guardiola called him “the most important player in Spanish football history.” He first played professionally for Real Madrid in 1994 and now manages Real Madrid Castilla. He retired from soccer in 2015 after playing with the New York Cosmos after 448 goals throughout his career. Once Madrid’s top-scorer, Blanco consistently scored 20 or more goals from 1995-96 to 2003-04. Blanco won six La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League titles.

ODD ANDERSEN // Getty Images

#14. Philipp Lahm (tie)

Philipp Lahm poses with the World Cup trophy

– Net worth: $100 million
– Salary: $14 million
– Nationality: Germany
– Date of birth: 1983 (39 years old)
– Teams: Bayern Munich (Germany), VfB Stuttgart (Germany)

Philipp Lahm was a fullback and defensive midfielder for the German national team until 2014 and Bayern Munich until the end of the 2017 season. Lahm was on the World Cup teams in 2006 and 2010 but famously finished his term after a German win in 2014 against Argentina. USA Today Sports writer Adi Joseph called him “one of the greatest players in German history” who miraculously retired without ever having received a red card, despite being a defender.

Hindustan Times // Getty Images

#14. Pelé (tie)

Pelé during a first day of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit

– Net worth: $100 million
– Salary: not available
– Nationality: Brazil
– Date of birth: 1940 (82 years old)
– Teams: Santos (Brazil), New York Cosmos (United States)

Perhaps one of the most recognizable names in soccer, Pelé was a Brazilian soccer player for two decades with three World Cup wins before joining the New York Cosmos. He developed his soccer skills while kicking a rolled-up sock stuffed with rags in the street of Brazil and eventually found tutelage under Waldemar de Brito, a former Brazilian national soccer player. He has scored 1,283 goals across all tournaments (though the number varies depending on who you ask).

He stepped into the limelight in Sweden at the 1958 World Cup with two goals and is credited with inspiring many soccer superstars to play in America after he joined the New York Cosmos in 1975. Pelé received the International Peace Award in 1978 and was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999. A Pelé Museum now exists in Santos, Brazil.

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce // Getty Images

#14. Eden Hazard (tie)

Eden Hazard of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring

– Net worth: $100 million
– Salary: $15 million
– Nationality: Belgium
– Date of birth: 1991 (31 years old)
– Teams: Lille B (France), Lille (France), Chelsea (United Kingdom), Real Madrid (Spain)

Eden Hazard is a Belgian soccer player who plays for Real Madrid and the Belgian national team. Rumor has it, however, that Hazard is looking to switch back to the Premier League, either with Newcastle or Aston Villa. Hazard has won the Premier League twice, the Champions League once, and many individual honors. The winger and midfielder captains the Belgium team and stands to earn more as his career continues.

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Eurasia Sport Images // Getty Images

#13. Zinedine Zidane (tie)

Zinedine Zidane head coach of Real Madrid celebrates with the La Liga trophy

– Net worth: $120 million
– Salary: $14 million
– Nationality: France
– Date of birth: 1972 (50 years old)
– Teams: Cannes (France), Bordeaux (France), Juventus (Italy), Real Madrid (France)

Zinedine Zidane, also called Zizou, was born to Algerian immigrants in France and learned to handle the ball on the streets of Marseille. While playing at youth clubs, he was discovered by a French Football Federation coach at 14 years old. He made his professional debut at Cannes three years later. In 2001, he signed with Real Madrid for more than $66 million in transfer fees. He eventually made his way over to the coaching side, managing Real Madrid, where he guided the team to victory in the Champions League three years in a row.

BSR Agency // Getty Images

#13. Mesut Özil (tie)

Mesut Ozil of Fenerbahce SK during the Super Lig match between Fenerbahce and Altay

– Net worth: $120 million
– Salary: $24 million
– Nationality: Germany
– Date of birth: 1988 (34 years old)
– Teams: Schalke 04 (Germany), Werder Bremen (Germany), Real Madrid (Spain), Arsenal (United Kingdom), Fenerbahçe (Turkey), Istanbul Başakşehir (Turkey)

Mesut Özil certainly knows the finer things in life. He reportedly owns about £800,000 worth of automobiles and an extravagant six-bedroom home in London. After the birth of their child, Özil and his wife funded 1,000 surgeries for underprivileged children to mark the occasion in 2020. He was paid an estimated $24 million annually with Arsenal. The German outfielder, however, quit the national team in 2018 after experiencing racism. Apart from playing sports physically, he’s also gone into esports, founding M10 eSports in 2018, which competes in Fortnite and EA Sports’ FIFA.

Justin Setterfield // Getty Images

#13. José Mourinho (tie)

Jose Mourinho, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates a goal

– Net worth: $120 million
– Salary: $27 million
– Nationality: Portugal
– Date of birth: 1963 (59 years old)
– Teams: Rio Ave B (Portugal), Belenenses B (Portugal), Sesimbra (Portugal), Comércio e Indústria (Portugal)

José Mourinho is a veteran Portuguese football manager who has overseen Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and Porto before joining Roma in 2021 and winning 25 trophies along the way. The Portuguese Football Federation named him the coach of the century in 2015, and he holds several Guinness World Records, including for “youngest football manager to reach 100 UEFA Champions League matches.”

David Ramos // Getty Images

#13. Andrés Iniesta (tie)

Andrés Iniesta of FC Barcelona looks on during a match

– Net worth: $120 million
– Salary: $33 million
– Nationality: Spain
– Date of birth: 1984 (38 years old)
– Teams: Barcelona B (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Vissel Kobe (Japan)

After almost 22 years with Barcelona, Andrés Iniesta signed for $30 million annually to join Vissel Kobe through 2023. His high salary and active status give him an edge over the players tied in the 13th spot. He won the 2010 World Cup and has four Champions Leagues under his belt with Barcelona. After a serious injury in 2020, Iniesta continues to play with Japan and retains his love for the game. “The day I don’t feel the emotion of seeing a full stadium, or meeting the fans and my teammates, is perhaps the day I shouldn’t be playing any more and football is over,” he told BBC.

Michael Regan // Getty Images

#12. Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba of Manchester United looks dejected after hitting the post

– Net worth: $125 million
– Salary: $33 million
– Nationality: France
– Date of birth: 1993 (29 years old)
– Teams: Manchester United (United Kingdom), Juventus (Italy)

Paul Pogma is a midfielder who plays for Juventus and the French national team. He earns about $28 million per year in base salary and up to $10 million per year in endorsements. Pogba has a sponsorship deal with Adidas and has enough star power to commandeer an Amazon Prime docuseries “The Pogmentary” that explores his career trajectory and his eventual decision to leave Manchester United. He also owns some luxury real estate in Miami and Cheshire.

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Omar Vega // Getty Images

#11. Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry of Montreal Impact looks on during an MLS match

– Net worth: $130 million
– Salary: $5 million
– Nationality: France
– Date of birth: 1977 (45 years old)
– Teams: Monaco B (Monaco), Monaco (Monaco), Juventus (Italy), Arsenal (United Kingdom), Barcelona (Spain), New York Red Bulls (United States)

Thierry Henry is a retired French player known for his time with Arsenal in the early 2000s, where he won seven trophies. He set a record by winning the Golden Boot an astonishing four times. He helped the French national team win the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship. He became a manager for various teams, including Monaco and the Montreal Impact (now called CF Montreal). Henry stepped down as manager of the Impact in 2021. Henry had different deals with Nike, Reebok, and Puma over his career as a player. He has also endorsed Beats headphones and Gillette.

Michael Regan // Getty Images

#10. Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale of Real Madrid celebrates scoring a goal

– Net worth: $145 million
– Salary: $33 million
– Nationality: Wales
– Date of birth: 1989 (33 years old)
– Teams: Southampton (United Kingdom), Tottenham Hotspur (United Kingdom), Real Madrid (Spain), Los Angeles FC (United States)

Gareth Bale was a three-time Spanish champion and a five-time UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid. Born in Cardiff, Wales, Bale started as a defender but quickly made his name as a striker, scoring more goals for the Welsh national team than any other Welshman. He earns about $9 million in endorsements from brands like Adidas, EA Sports, and Lucozade, as well as $185,000 per sponsored Instagram post.

Michael Regan // Getty Images

#9. Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal

– Net worth: $150 million
– Salary: $53 million
– Nationality: France
– Date of birth: 1998 (23 years old)
– Teams: Monaco II (Monaco), Monaco (Monaco), Paris Saint-Germain (France)

Kylian Mbappé is a French national player who is already one of the most paid on the planet. Apart from his $53 million salary, Mbappé also earns $10 million in endorsements as of 2022. Mbappé helped his team win the FIFA World Cup in 2018, donating his entire $500,000 World Cup bonus to Premiers de Cordée association, a charity that benefits children living with disabilities who want to play sports. He re-signed with Paris Saint-Germain in 2022 for a contract worth $266.5 million over three years.

Catherine Ivill // Getty Images

#8. Ronaldo

Ronaldo cheers the fans prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group A match

– Net worth: $160 million
– Salary: not available
– Nationality: Brazil
– Date of birth: 1976 (46 years old)
– Teams: Cruzeiro (Brazil), PSV (The Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Inter Milan (Italy), Real Madrid (Spain), AC Milan (Italy), Corinthians (Brazil)

A soccer superstar, Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima was named FIFA Player of the Year three times and won the Ballon d’Or award twice. Starting at the Brazilian club Cruzeiro at 17 years old, he scored 12 goals in 14 appearances. He then joined a Dutch team, followed by a run with Barcelona for an incredible season where he made 47 goals in 49 games and was named FIFA Player of the Year. Ronaldo purchased a team in La Liga called Real Valladolid in 2018. He retired in 2021 after 18 seasons due to knee injuries.

Catherine Ivill // Getty Images

#7. Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney on the field at Wembley Stadium

– Net worth: $170 million
– Salary: $26 million
– Nationality: United Kingdom
– Date of birth: 1985 (37 years old)
– Teams: Everton (United Kingdom), Manchester United (United Kingdom), D.C. United (United States), Derby County (United Kingdom)

Wayne Rooney left D.C. United to become a player-coach for the English Football League Championship club Derby County in 2020. He became their full-time coach a year later. Rooney later returned to D.C. United as a manager in 2022, a move that earned the league a $25,000 fine for violating its diversity policy. Rooney’s records include the English national team all-time top-scorer and most Premier League goals scored for one club. Rooney has signed multimillion-pound book deals, which didn’t fly off the shelves; he also has had endorsements with Nike, Samsung, EA Sports, and more.

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Francesco Pecoraro // Getty Images

#6. Zlatan Ibrahimović

Zlatan Ibrahimović celebrates after scoring a goal

– Net worth: $190 million
– Salary: $35 million
– Nationality: Sweden
– Date of birth: 1981 (41 years old)
– Teams: Malmö FF (Sweden), Ajax (The Netherlands), Juventus (Italy), Inter Milan (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), AC Milan (Italy), Paris Saint-Germain (France), Manchester United (United Kingdom), LA Galaxy (United States)

Zlatan Ibrahimović is a Swedish striker for AC Milan. He was named captain of the Swedish national team in 2012 and leads his country in goals scored with 62 goals in 116 games. An 8-foot-9-inch-tall statue of him graces the stadium at Malmo, where his career began. His contract with Milan runs until June 30, 2023, but he is sidelined due to a knee injury. “I have a big passion for my game,” Ibrahimović, who does not plan to retire, told CNN in an October 2022 interview.

Michael Reaves // Getty Images

#5. Neymar

Neymar Jr. of Brazil reacts after assisting on a goal

– Net worth: $200 million
– Salary: $78 million
– Nationality: Brazil
– Date of birth: 1992 (30 years old)
– Teams: Santos (Brazil), Barcelona (Spain), Paris Saint-Germain (France)

Neymar is a Brazilian with one of the highest base salaries for soccer players in the world. His base salary is about $78 million, and he earns an additional $20 to 40 million from endorsements and bonuses. Neymar’s endorsement deals include Nike, Volkswagen, and more. He made his professional debut in 2009 at 17. He’s been a member of the Brazilian national team and Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain.

Richard Sellers – PA Images // Getty Images

#4. Dave Whelan

Dave Whelan after a win with a trophy

– Net worth: $210 million
– Salary: not available
– Nationality: England
– Date of birth: 1936 (85 years old)
– Teams: Blackburn Rovers (United Kingdom), Crewe Alexandra (United Kingdom)

Whelan played from 1956-66, but he found his true calling in commerce. He opened up a series of supermarkets called Whelan’s Discount Stores, which he eventually sold. He then acquired a sporting and fishing store in Wigan, which he expanded into the U.K.’s second-largest retail chain, JJB. He then set his sights back on soccer, purchasing Wigan Athletic in 1995 and took them to the Premier League in 2005. Wigan Atheltic also won the FA Cup in 2013. He stepped down as chairman of the club in 2015 amid a furor over racist comments.

Matthew Lewis // Getty Images

#3. David Beckham

David Beckham of Manchester United ’99 Legends looks on during a game

– Net worth: $450 million
– Salary: $50 million
– Nationality: England
– Date of birth: 1975 (47 years old)
– Teams: Manchester United (United Kingdom), Preston North End (United Kingdom), Real Madrid (Spain), LA Galaxy (United States), AC Milan (Italy), Paris Saint-Germain (France)

David Beckham was an English soccer player who married singer/designer Victoria Beckham. He served as captain of the England national team from 2000 to 2006. He signed a reported $1-million-a-week, five-year contract with the LA Galaxy in 2007, which made him the highest-paid player in Major League Soccer at the time. Beckham leads a group that owns Inter Miami. He bought more stake in the team, valued at $150 million in 2021.

Clive Brunskill // Getty Images

#2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo looks on during a Premier League match

– Net worth: $500 million
– Salary: $70 million
– Nationality: Portugal
– Date of birth: 1985 (37 years old)
– Teams: Sporting CP (Portugal), Manchester United (United Kingdom), Real Madrid (Spain), Juventus (Italy)

Cristiano Ronaldo is on track to be one of the few professional athletes to surpass $1 billion in revenue in salary and endorsements. He already brings in over $100 million annually. Ronaldo is also a member of the Portugal national team.

Ronaldo’s professional career began with Manchester United in 2003, where he made a great showing. He then joined Real Madrid for about a $131 million transfer fee and left after nine years, in 2018, to play with Juventus. He rejoined Manchester United in 2022 but left the club in November of that year after a controversial interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticized the team and its manager, just ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Ronaldo is a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and signed a $1 billion lifetime deal with Nike in 2016—a lynchpin in his dizzying assortment of endorsements.

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David Ramos // Getty Images

#1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona waves to the crowd

– Net worth: $600 million
– Salary: $75 million
– Nationality: Argentina
– Date of birth: 1987 (35 years old)
– Teams: Barcelona (Spain), Paris Saint-Germain (France)

Lionel Messi is the highest-paid soccer player and professional athlete overall. Messi makes over $168 million in average annual salary, plus $40 million in endorsements. He is a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and captains the Argentina national team. Messi helped Argentina make the World Cup finals in 2014, but he has never won one. He scored 672 goals with Barcelona, which is more than any player with one team. Messi is also a philanthropist, founding his own charity to improve education and health care access for children in underserved communities.

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