Forbes List of World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

The World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars
To compile the list of the world’s highest paid we combed through team filings and spoke with players’ agents, talent agencies, commercial sponsors and soccer experts in the U.S. and Europe. Figures are in US $ and include soccer salaries, bonuses, and endorsements earned in 2014. Transfer fees are excluded.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars
World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#1 Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid / Portugal
Earnings: $79 million

Salary & Bonus: $52.2 million

Endorsements: $26.8 million

Major Sponsors: Nike, Tag Heuer, Herbalife, CR7 Underwear, Shirts & Shoes, Clear For Men

The three-time and reigning FIFA best player in the world has scored 60 or more goals in each of the last four calendar years and averages a goal a game for his club. He has a $50+ million a year salary (with bonuses) to show for it. He’s also the world’s most popular athlete, with 102 million Facebook and 35 million Twitter followers In January his agent Jorge Mendes told French outlet Telefoot his superstar could move to the United States after his Real Madrid career expires – in 2018, when he’s 33 years old.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#2 Lionel Messi, Barcelona / Argentina
Earnings: $70.5 million

Salary & Bonus: $48.5 million

Endorsements: $22 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas, Pepsi, Turkish Airlines, Gillette, EA Sports, Audemars Piguet

After Real Madrid made Ronaldo the highest paid in Spain’s La Liga in 2013, Barcelona ultimately responded in May 2014 by giving their record four-time FIFA player of the year another new contract – the 7th since 2005 – that resulted in a $9 million a year raise through its expiration in 2018. His superhuman talent is why sponsor Samsung cast him as superhero Iron Man in their new ad promoting the Avengers film. It’s also why his main sponsor Adidas launched a Messi icon line of shoes and apparel which has exceeded company expectations, including in the US.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#3 Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain / Sweden
Earnings: $41.8 million

Salary & Bonus: $35.8 million

Endorsements: $6 million

Major Sponsors: Volvo, Vitamin Well

In October the Swedish striker’s agent Mina Raiola told French media that his 33-year old star will play another 8 years, while Zlatan told ESPN FC he does not see himself playing at the top level after his contract expires in 2016. A rumored move to MLS has been fueled by a report he applied for a long-term US Visa this past April. In November he signaled an end to his long-term deal with Nike by wearing a pair of cleats with the swoosh logo barely visible. He remains without the typically lucrative boot sponsor.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#4 Gareth Bale, Real Madrid / Wales
Earnings: $34.9 million

Salary & Bonus: $25.4 million

Endorsements: $9.5 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas, EA Sports, Sony Xperia Z3, BT Sport

Talk is heating up that the Welshman is on the move back to the UK after Real Madrid spent a whopping $118 million to acquire him from Tottenham in 2013. No matter where he goes he’s poised to remain a standout fixture for sponsor Adidas, having inked a 6-year contract last year worth an estimated $35 million.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#5 Neymar, Barcelona / Brazil
Earnings: $31.7 million

Salary & Bonus: $14.7 million

Endorsements: $17 million

Major Sponsors: Nike, Unilever, Panasonic, Konami, Red Bull, Volkswagen, Police

The Brazilian wonderkid banked more from sponsors than from Barcelona, something marketing juggernaut David Beckham perfected before him. The difference: Neymar is doing this at 23-years old before his playing career peaks. Part of the reason for the tilt was a bump in sponsorships that came on the heels of the World Cup held in his homeland. His Nike and Beats By Dre commercials were lauded as two of the event’s most memorable. His playing contract is a good fallback for his natural talent. He’s making $75 million over 5 years.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#6 Radamel Falcao, Chelsea/ Colombia
Earnings: $31 million

Salary & Bonus: $27 million

Endorsements: $4 million

Major Sponsors: Puma, Samsung, Gillette, Panini, Gatorade

After striking a deal in 2013 with AS Monaco to double his salary, Falcao agreed to a loan to Manchester United in 2014. The team is expected to commit to a permanent move this summer. In exchange the Colombian is incentivized with bonuses and image rights. He’s going on a 5-year sponsorship with Puma and recently has been featured in ads with Man City’s Sergio Aguero (Rank #9).

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#7 Wayne Rooney, Manchester United / U.K.
Earnings: $25.8 million

Salary & Bonus: $19 million

Endorsements: $6.8 million

Major Sponsors: Nike, Harper Collins, Samsung

Rooney signed a $105 million, 5-year contract extension in 2014 with Man U. that will keep him there until June 2019, just shy of his 34th birthday. The deal allows for the club to negotiate endorsements on the team captain’s behalf. He is at the tail-end of a 12-year, $9 million book deal with Harper Collins.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#8 James Rodriguez, Real Madrid / Colombia
Earnings: $25.4 million

Salary & Bonus: $21.4 million

Endorsements: $4 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas, Gatorade, Pepsi, Huawei, Hugo Boss, Dentics

Though his Colombian squad lost in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup, the 23-year old striker left with the Golden Boot award given to the best player for scoring a tournament-high 6 goals. His bumper $100 million move to Real Madrid followed, along with an immediate comparison to Cristiano Ronaldo. Shortly after he posed in his new line of J10 underwear created by newest sponsor Bronzini Black. He just signed a long-term extension with Adidas.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars.

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#9 Sergio Aguero, Manchester City / Argentina
Earnings: $25.3 million

Salary & Bonus: $18.1 million

Endorsements: $7.2 million

Major Sponsors: Puma, Pepsi, Gillette

Kun, as he is affectionately known, landed a new 5-year contract extension last summer which will keep him committed to Man City through June 2019 when he turns 31. The face of long-time boot sponsor Puma and ex-son-in-law of soccer legend Diego Maradona released his autobiography Born To Rise in 2014.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#10 Luis Suarez, Barcelona / Uruguay
Earnings: $19.9 million

Salary & Bonus: $15.4 million

Endorsements: $4.5 million

Major Sponsor: Adidas

The Uruguayan national bit an Italian opponent in the World Cup last June, his career third biting incident, and was kicked out of the tournament and banned from play for 4 months. But his biggest sponsor, Adidas, stuck by him. Barcelona then signed him on a $17 million playing contract.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#11 Yaya Touré, Manchester City / Ivory Coast
Earnings: $19.7 million

Salary & Bonus: $17 million

Endorsements: $2.7 million

Major Sponsor: Puma

The Ivorian midfielder rejected a new City contract and is set to sign with Inter Milan of Italy’s Serie A for an estimated $9 million playing contract.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#12 Mesut Ozil, Arsenal / Germany
Earnings: $19.1 million

Salary & Bonus: $12.8 million

Endorsements: $6.3 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas, Gatorade, Cyrus Genève

The German national is on his second year of a 5-year contract with the Gunners worth $63 million.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars.

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#13 Eden Hazard, Chelsea / Belgium
Earnings: $18.9 million

Salary & Bonus: $15.4 million

Endorsements: $3.5 million

Major Sponsors: Nike, EA Sports

In January the Belgium midfielder signed a 5.5 year contract with Chelsea to pay an estimated $15.8 million a year.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars.

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#14 Robin Van Persie, Fenerbahçe / Netherlands
Earnings: $18.7 million

Salary & Bonus: $15.7 million

Endorsements: $3 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas, Pepsi

The 31-year old has one year left on his contract and is yet without an extension. His future is uncertain with his play on the pitch in question. He was recently replaced as Man U’s top penalty kicker.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars.

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#15 Fernando Torres, Atletico Madrid / Spain
Earnings: $18.3 million

Salary & Bonus: $14.8 million

Endorsements: $3.5 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas, Pepsi

Last August the Spanish striker joined AC Milan on 2-year loan from Chelsea, the timing which coincides with end of his contract. In December it was announced the move would be made permanent, only for him then to go on loan to Atletico Madrid, his second stint with the club. Despite taking a salary hit he’s shown signs of a return to form that could result in a longer more lucrative deal.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars.

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#16 Steven Gerrard, Liverpool / UK
Earnings: $18.3 million

Salary & Bonus: $12.3 million

Endorsements: $6 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas, Lucozade

In January the LA Galaxy signed Liverpool captain, signaling an end to his one-club career. He’ll join the club in July and make $9 million over an 18-month deal.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars.

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#17 Frank Lampard, Manchester City / UK
Earnings: $17.8 million

Salary & Bonus: $13.8 million

Endorsements: $4 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas, Pepsi

The 36-year old British midfielder’s career in the Prem League comes to an end this month. After a debacle involving the timing of his official contract, he will finally join New York City FC July 1st. The 36-year old is expected to earn $6 million a season and be with the expansion club through December 2016.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars.

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#18 Thiago Silva, Paris Saint-Germain / Brazil
Earnings: $17.8 million

Salary & Bonus: $15.8 million

Endorsements: $2 million

Major Sponsors: Nike, Nissan

The Paris Saint-Germain captain is currently on a 6-yr contract that pays him over $15 million a season through 2018.

World’s Highest Paid Soccer Stars.

World's Highest Paid Soccer Stars#20 David Silva, Manchester City / Spain
Earnings: $17.3 million

Salary & Bonus: $15.8 million

Endorsements: $1.5 million

Major Sponsors: Adidas

The Spanish midfielder signed a new 5-year contract last August to extend his current stay with Manchester City until 2019. He has won two Premier League titles in his 5 seasons with the club.

Leave a Reply