Who Is The Highest-Paid Soccer Player in 2024?
On this page, we will unravel the secrets of soccer’s financial elite, exploring who holds the esteemed title of the highest-paid soccer player in 2024.
People will always debate over the most gifted soccer player, but what about the highest-paid soccer player? This accolade goes far beyond on-field achievements and quantifies their unparalleled status in the sport.
The highest-paid soccer player in the world right now can change at any moment. Lionel Messi reportedly has received an offer from a Saudi Arabian club in the neighbourhood of $400 million annually. That astounding salary would greatly surpass that of Messi’s longtime rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed with a different Saudi club in December for a reported $220 million yearly. Here’s a look at the income of those two megastars and everyone else that’s looking up at them.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo – $90M Salary, $170M Off-Field Income
What more can be said about one of the greatest soccer players to ever live? Cristiano Ronaldo has done it all on a professional level and is arguably the most popular player in the world. In an over 20-year career, Ronaldo has amassed more goals than anyone in history and won 32 different league and tournament titles. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner recently left a contentious situation with Manchester United to sign the richest annual deal in team sports history with Saudi Arabian soccer club Al Nassr.
He’s set to make almost $90 million in direct salary plus approximately $120 million more in endorsements and image rights from just the club alone. On top of that, Ronaldo is one of the few athletes with a lifetime deal with Nike, rumoured to be worth around $1 billion. Ronaldo’s career is winding down, but he’s had as big an impact on the sport internationally as anyone in his era, and he is being rewarded handsomely for it.
#2 Lionel Messi – $41M Salary, $90M Off-Field Income
Messi could move up to the first place at any moment if the reports are true of him considering following Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia. After finally winning a World Cup for his native Argentina, Messi’s brand has never been bigger. The man with the second most goals in history and the most Ballon d’Ors with seven, has climbed every mountain top now and even has many calling him the greatest of all time.
To his credit, he is being paid like it. Let’s not forget that Messi signed the most lucrative contract in sports history at $674 million over four years back in 2017 with FC Barcelona. Messi is just over two years younger than the 38-year-old Ronaldo and is likely not too far behind him, considering it’s time to hang them up soon. Will he start his journey into the sunset to play for the money or come to Miami as was once rumoured?
#3 Kylian Mbappe – $100M Salary, $20M Off-Field Income
Kylian Mbappe has next. Neymar’s younger, phenomenal teammate is the future of soccer. Already considered by some to be the best player in the world, the sensational 24-year-old has already led France to a World Cup, almost won a second, won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award three times, won the 2022 World Cup Golden Boot and Silver Ball, and has scored more goals than both Ronaldo and Messi by this age.
Mbappe is the future of soccer, and brands have quickly realized it with the EA FIFA video game series making Kylian the first player to grace back-to-back EA FIFA covers since Cristiano Ronaldo. He could make that three in a row this year. The future looks exceedingly bright for this talented young Frenchman.
#4 Neymar – $55M Salary, $32M Off-Field Income
Fourth on this list is 31-year-old Brazilian superstar winger Neymar. While Messi was signing the biggest contract in sports history, his former teammate Neymar became the most expensive transfer in history, costing $263 million to go to PSG.
Neymar is still one of the best in the world and is the third most followed athlete on social media. Endorsement deals with the likes of Puma and Triller help keep him in the public eye. He plays a very exciting style of soccer, making him a fan-favourite for many.
As Ronaldo and Messi enter the twilight years of their career, Neymar will be one of the next generation of stars taking up their legend status.
#5 Mohamed Salah – $35M Salary, $18M Off-Field Income
Mohamed Salah is easily considered one of the best soccer players in the world, and the 30-year-old currently leads Liverpool in the English Premier League and captains the Egypt national team. He’s won a Premier League Golden Boot and numerous league player of the year awards.
Wherever Salah has gone, he has succeeded, and in 2020, he took Liverpool to its first Premier League title. He currently has endorsement deals with companies like Adidas and also spends a considerable amount of time as a UNICEF ambassador. His future remains bright as he’ll become one of the biggest global stars in the sport whenever Messi and Ronaldo decide to hang up the cleats.
#6 Erling Haaland – $35M Salary, $4M Off-Field Income
Erling Haaland is younger than Kylian Mbappe at 22 years of age, and he will soon surely be shooting up this list. He’s one of the fastest-growing stars in the sport. A goal-scoring machine that set the Premier League on fire with a record 35 goals scored in one season, Haaland is quickly becoming an international superstar.
Play like that has resulted in off-field boons as Haaland recently signed a reportedly 10-year plus deal with Nike. His endorsement deals will only grow as he continues dominating at the highest level and becoming one of the biggest stars in the world.
#7 Robert Lewandowski – $27M Salary, $8M Off-Field Income
One of the most accomplished goal scorers around, the 34-year-old is still at the top of his game. He was the Best Fifa Men’s Player in 2020 and 2021 and the UEFA Best Player in Europe in 2020, all while playing for Bayern Munich.
One of the greatest players in the history of Poland, Lewandowski is a known and respected commodity in the soccer world. He’s still got a few years left to prove it.
#8 Andres Iniesta – $25M Salary, $5M Off-Field Income
The second oldest player on this list, the 37-year-old Iniesta has been playing in Japan for Vissel Kobe since 2018. He built a reputation as an excellent midfielder over the last two decades. It was enough to make him the most decorated Spanish soccer player of all time, with 35 trophies.
Though his best years may be behind him, Iniesta brings gutsy veteran savvy and leadership to his new club, already winning two trophies there.
#9 Kevin De Bruyne – $25M Salary, $4M Off-Field Income
This 31-year-old is currently starring for Manchester City and the Belgian national team. He’s also found success wherever he’s gone and holds a long list of accolades, including the Bundesliga Player of the Year, the PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice, the Premier League Playmaker of the Season twice, and Manchester City’s Player of the Year four times.
He may not be as well-known as some of the others on this list but rest assured. He has the respect of those in the know. He’s developed into one of the best midfielders in the world and is a big part of Belgian prominence on the world stage.
#10 Harry Kane – $17M Salary, $10M Off-Field Income
Harry Kane might be a surprise to see so low on this list. After his recent World Cup, the 29-year-old firmly established himself as the face of English soccer. The Tottenham star and England national team captain is one of the best goal-strikers in the world, and his resume reflects that.
Still, under 30, Kane is already the second all-time goalscorer in Premier League history as well as the all-time leader for both Tottenham Hotspur and the England national team. He won’t be in tenth place on this list very long.
There are a few rising stars from around the world that could challenge to be in a top ten position soon. Here are some of the best young players to keep an eye on as they progress in their careers and get closer to making the big money.
#1 Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho has seen his shine wear off a bit, but he is still considered a great young player. He’s currently playing for Manchester United though there are rumours he could be moving soon. Sancho is a talented young winger that could make plenty of wages in the future.
#2 Phil Foden
Phil Foden is one of the best English players alive and plays a big role in the national team. While he’s overshadowed by some other big names at Manchester City, Foden is quickly making a name for himself as an elite young talent and could get a big deal sooner than later.
#3 Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford had an excellent World Cup performance for England and currently plays a big role for his club team, Manchester United. Rashford is a fast winger that is always a threat to score a goal. If he can keep scoring at both the club and international levels, he will be on this list sooner than later.
#4 Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the best playmakers in the world. He currently plays for Liverpool and shifts between the right-back position and the central midfielder position. Trent Alexander-Arnold is part of a young generation of English players that will look to achieve international success.
#5 Ansu Fati
Ansu Fati is a young phenom that is currently playing for Barcelona FC in Spain. Fati will get plenty of opportunities to show off his still at Barcelona as he is supremely talented and a great young winger.
There are several factors that help determine how much the best soccer players are paid. First and foremost, predictably, is their performance on the field. As in any field, talent wins out, and those with elite levels of talent are in prime demand, including even the best Canadian soccer players. Sometimes the most talented players bring some hype with them, and that’s when marketing potential can play a part in how well a player is paid. Reputation and influence, especially for older stars and legends, is another key contributor to salary considerations. Finally, a very obvious but sometimes overlooked factor is the team value. The richest and most valuable teams will have and will spend the most money because they can.
💸 Team Spending And The Evolution of Soccer Incomes
Soccer remains the most popular sport in the world, and the interest is showing no signs of letting up. Soccer teams are spending unprecedented amounts of money to get the best talent to compete for the title. A soccer team is an investment, and there is no shortage of eager investors.
We will continue to see the richest clubs spend the most money to bring in talent across the leagues. Players will continue to reap the benefits of this new commitment to winning. With soccer increasing in popularity in places like Saudi Arabia, we could continue to see more deals from that part of the world as well.
Trends in Soccer Salaries
Salaries for the very best in soccer have been rapidly increasing throughout this century. Recent increases in money spent by teams might be reflective of how much money they couldn’t spend during the pandemic.
Ronaldo and Messi still hold strong compared to last year’s rankings, as they have for many years. Kylian Mbappe overtakes Neymar as they flip-flop third and fourth places, while Erling Haaland is a new entry to the top ten. This list could change even more over the next year.
Expert's Conclusion on The Highest-Paid Soccer Players of The Year
Soccer Betting Expert
As you can see, the elite grouping of the world’s highest-paid soccer players is primarily dominated by familiar names from prestigious clubs. What’s fascinating is the latest Saudi league trend has seen Ronaldo take the top spot, but Messi could surpass him at any time.
While it’s unfortunate that no Canadian players made the list, the future holds promise as the soccer world continues to evolve. With new stars rising and boundless opportunities on the horizon, the quest to become the highest-paid soccer player may attract more prime players to make groundbreaking moves in the ultimate race for soccer dominance.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-paid player in the world, making an estimated $260 million over the year.
Mohamed Salah is the highest-paid player in the Premier League, with an estimated earnings of $53 million this year.
Cristiano Ronaldo is currently number one as the highest-paid player in the world right now. Lionel Messi is number two.
These are the current highest-paid soccer players in the world: 1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Mohamed Salah, Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski, Andres Iniesta, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane.
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Greg Lea is a soccer journalist specializing in Ontario's soccer betting scene. He has had work published by ESPN, Eurosport, Goal.com and more. Among his strengths as a sports journalist are live blogs, match reports, press conference papers, analytical sports articles and commentary. Since 2015, Greg has been a full-time freelancer and received Premier League accreditation the same year.
Facts checked by Greg Lea