Top Highest Paid Male Football Players of 2019
Forbes publishes its list of the 100 highest-paid athletes annually, and soccer players are usually the prevalent athletes on the list.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi takes the top spot on Forbes' 2019 list of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world with $127 million in total earnings.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar join Messi in the top 3 of the highest-paid male football players. For the first time in history, three soccer players have the top three spots on the list. The top players in the following list each make more than $20 million annually.
Three soccer players top the list for the first time since the list debuted in 1990 with Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar being at the top of the table.
Highest Paid Football Players of 2019
Below we take a look at the highest-paid soccer players in the world:
1. Lionel Messi - $127 million
- Club: FC Barcelona
- Contract: Four years, $80 million (€70 million) annually
- Salary & Bonus: $92M
- Endorsements: $35M
- Largest Sponsors/Partners: Adidas, Gatorade, Lays, Pepsi, Ooredoo, Mastercard, Jacobs & Co.
- Country: Argentina Age: 32
Messi, born 24 June 1987 took the top spot among the World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Players, with earnings of $127 million. Messi is not just the highest-paid soccer player, but the highest-paid athlete in the world.
He signed a contract extension in November 2017 that committed him to Camp Nou through June 2021; as a result, he hauled in $92 million in salary and bonuses before taxes, a 9.5% bump over what he made on the pitch last year.
Part of that increase came by way of performance-incentive pay. The 32-year-old striker topped La Liga’s charts for both goals (36) and assists, marking his fifth season of 35 or more goals.
It was also his sixth season in which he scored 50 or more goals across all club competitions. He shone brightly in the club’s run-up to quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League, with the Argentine the top goal scorer of that competition, hitting the back of the net 12 times in 10 appearances.
To supplement his salary, Messi boasts a lifelong sponsorship deal with Adidas, as well as smaller deals with Gatorade, Pepsi, and Huawei, which earns an additional $35 million a year in endorsements.
Messi's net worth is $400 Million. His international renown as an athlete has even earned him a theme park named in his honor, projected to open in 2020 in China. Unfortunately, before heading out on his tour of the U.S., he injured his lower leg during training. Medical tests indicated a Grade 1 calf strain, a relatively small injury.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo - $109 million (€96.4 million)
- Club: Juventus
- Contract: 4 years, $64 million (€56.5 million) annually
- Country: Portugal Age: 34
Cristiano Ronaldo, born 5 February 1985, is ranked as the second-highest-paid soccer player and the third-highest paid athlete overall in 2018. Ronaldo took home $61 million in salary and winnings from Real Madrid and $47 million in endorsements, for a whopping total of $108 million.
Ronaldo has been a forward on the Real Madrid and Portugal national teams.
Although Ronaldo exited the 2018 World Cup early, he remained in the public eye when news broke that he transferred to Juventus on a four-year deal. The transfer fee totaled $140 million.
Ronaldo's net annual salary will reportedly be $35 million. However, it also appears as though Ronaldo's gross pay will amount to $64 million for the 2018–19 season.
In 2017, Ronaldo scored 44 goals in 43 matches and was honored with a fifth Ballon d'Or. He also won his fifth Champions League title.
Ronaldo has a lifetime contract with Nike worth up to $1 billion. His other deals include Herbalife, EA Sports, and American Tourister.
3. Neymar Jr. - $105 million (€92.8 million)
- Club: Paris Saint-Germain
- Contract: Five years, $350 million (€309.4 million)
- Country: Brazil Age: 27
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, born 5 February 1992, is known as one of the world's best football players. He is best known for his expensive transfer, in which the Paris Saint-Germain team paid $263 million to the Barcelona team to acquire him.
This remains the most expensive transfer fee in the sport's history. Neymar currently earns a salary of $75 million with the French team.
In addition to his salary, the player has several endorsements to enhance his income. In 2011, he landed an 11-year contract with Nike. He also has deals with Red Bull, EA Sports, Mastercard - Get Report, and several other big-name companies, earning an additional $30 million.
Despite being a talented player, Neymar is not without controversy. In 2016, Neymar was convicted of tax fraud in Spain and forced to pay $1.2 million fine.
He also got into an altercation with a spectator during a game in May 2019, resulting in a 3-game ban. In June 2019, he was accused of rape against a woman in Brazil, though the Brazilian courts dismissed the case in late July. Despite these missteps, Neymar has still become the third-highest paid soccer player in the world.
4. Paul Pogba - $33 million (€29.2 million)
- Club: Manchester United
- Contract: Five years, $20 million annually (€17.7 million)
- Country: France Age: 26
Paul Pogba, born 15 March 1993, is known as one of the world's most promising players. He began his senior career playing for Manchester United for a year before being transferred to the Italian Juventus, who he stayed with for four years and plays for the French national team.
His time with Juventus helped him establish a reputation as a promising young player, allowing him to return to Manchester United and collect a then-record breaking transfer fee of 105 million euros. This is still the highest an English team has ever paid to acquire a soccer player.
He currently earns a salary of $29 million a year. Compared to some other top-paid soccer players, Pogba engages in fewer endorsement deals. His primary endorsement is with Adidas, bringing in $4 million additional earnings.
5. Andrés Iniesta - $32.5 million (€28.7 million)
- Club: Vissel Kobe
- Contract: Three years, $30 million annually (€26.5 million)
- Country: Spain Age: 35
Andrés Iniesta, born 11 May 1984, is known as the most decorated Spanish soccer player in history, obtaining numerous titles and trophies throughout his career. He has spent the majority of his time with the Barcelona team as a center midfielder.
In 2018, Iniesta signed a contract to join the Japanese team, Vissel Kobe. He currently makes $30 million a year in salary and bonuses. After moving on to the new team, the player ended his long-running sponsorship with Nike and signed on with Asics.
He earns $2.5 million in sponsorships total. He also earns extra income from Bodega Iniesta, his winery in Albacete, Spain.
6. Alexis Sánchez - $30.8 million (€27.2 million)
- Club: Manchester United
- Contract: Four 1/2 years, $21.5 million (€19 million) annually
- Country: Chile Age: 31
This Chilean soccer player, born 19 December 1988, has made his way around many different teams throughout his career, including Cobreloa, Udinese, and Barcelona.
In 2018, Manchester United paid a 30 million euro transfer fee to recruit him. He boasts the highest transfer fee ever paid for a Chilean soccer player.
Manchester United paid him $28.3 million in salary and bonuses. Additionally, he has $2.5 million in endorsements from Nike, Pepsi, and Huawei.
Sanchez has had numerous injuries in the last year, hurting his overall performance during this past season. Despite some rumors that Sanchez will be transferred into the team's reserves, team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer denies this claim.
7. Kylian Mbappé - $30.6 million (€27.1 million)
- Club: Paris Saint-Germain
- Contract: Three years, $20 million (€17.7 million) annually
- Country: France Age: 21
Kylian Mbappé, born on 20 December 1998, is widely considered one of the best football around the world. He is the youngest French player to score at a World Cup and only the second teenager ever to score at a World Cup Final.
Mbappé originally signed on with Monaco in 2015, before being loaned to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. He has since signed a full contract with the team. His salary and bonuses total $26.6 million.
To enhance his income, Mbappé holds long-term sponsorship deals with Nike and Marco Verratti. He also became a global ambassador to Hubolt in 2018. These deals rake in an extra $4 million.
8. Mesut Özil - $30.2 million (€26.7 million)
- Club: Arsenal
- Contract: Three years, $24 million (€21.2 million) annually
- Country: Germany Age: 31
Mesut Özil, born on 15 October 1988, is a German football player who currently plays as an attacking midfielder on London's Arsenal team. He is well-known for his technical skills, creativity, agility, finesse, and versatility.
Özil boasts the highest transfer fee of any German player, with Arsenal paying €50 million to acquire him. In early 2018, the player renewed his contract with Arsenal and boosted his pay, earning $23.7 million. Additionally, he earns $6.5 million in endorsements and sponsorships.
His largest contract is with Adidas, who he has been with since 2013 and has appeared in many commercials for the company. He also boasts deals with Mercedes Benz and Beats by Dre.
9. Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior - $29 million (€25.6 million)
- Club: Shanghai SIPG
- Contract: Four years, $26.5 million (€23.4 million) annually
- Country: Brazil Age: 28
Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior, born on 9 September 1991, widely known as "Oscar," is a Brazilian- soccer player who has played on a multitude of teams since 2008.
Today he serves as an attacking midfielder on the Shanghai SIPG team. He signed his contract with the Chinese team in 2017, more than quadrupling the pay he received on the Chelsea team he had been with since 2012.
He now earns $27 million in salary and bonuses. His transfer fee from Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG broke Asian transfer records at £60 million.
Oscar has a sponsorship with Adidas, which earns an additional $2 million each year.
10. Antoine Griezmann – $135 million
- Club: Barcelona FC
- Salary (bonus included): $23.2M
- Endorsement deals: $4.5M
- Country: France Age: 28
The French soccer player, born on 21 March 1991, currently plays as a forward for Barcelona's team after being transferred from Spain's Atlético de Madrid team in 2019.
Barcelona paid a $135 million transfer fee for Antoine Griezmann’s five-year contract, the fourth-highest transfer fee any team has paid for a player. He earns $23.2 million in salary and bonuses.
He also earns an additional $4.5 million in endorsements. Griezmann currently boasts a sponsorship with Puma and regularly appears on their television commercials.
Griezmann has yet another sponsorship with Huawei. He also serves as a brand ambassador for Head and Shoulders Shampoo and Gillette.
11. Gareth Bale-$27.1 million
- Club: Real Madrid
- Salary & Bonus: $20.6M
- Endorsements: $6.5M
- Country: Wales Age: 29
Gareth Bale, born 16 July 1989, is a Welsh soccer player who currently plays as a winger for Real Madrid and the Wales national team. He is widely known for his exceptional agility and talent on the field, so there is little wonder that Real Madrid has been eager to keep him on the team. In 2016, his contract was extended through 2022.
He makes $20.6 million a year in salary. To earn an extra $6.5 million in income, Bale has Adidas as his sponsor. His robust Instagram following places him in an ideal position for marketing other brands. As of 2018, it was reported that he earned $185,000 per sponsored post on his Instagram account.
12. Mohamed Salah-$25.1 million
- Club: Liverpool
- 2019 Salary: $25.1 million
- Contract: Five years, $15 million (€13.3 million) annually
- Country: Egypt Age: 27
Mohamed Salah, born on 15 June 1992, is an Egyptian football player that plays as a forward for England's Liverpool team and the Egyptian national team. Previously playing for the Italian Roma team, Salah was signed to Liverpool for a then-record breaking £36.9 million.
He presently earns $16.1 million in salary and bonuses. As a Muslim football player, Salah is known for advocating for women's equality in the east and has been credited for reducing islamophobia. For this and other successes, Salah was named among the top 100 most influential people in the world in Time magazine's 2019 issue.
Salah’s reputation has earned him many sponsors, including Adidas and EA Sports. He has also appeared in commercials for Vodafone Egypt, an Egyptian cell phone company. Salah earns $9 million from sponsorship.
13. Ángel Di María- $23.7 million
- Club: Paris Saint-Germain
- Salary & Bonus: $21.7M
- Endorsements: $2M
- Country: Argentina Age: 31
Argentinian football player Ángel Di María, born on 14 February 1988, currently plays as a winger or attacking midfielder for France's Paris Saint-Germain team and the Argentina national team.
María has always set transfer fee records throughout his career. When he went from Spain's Real Madrid team to England's Manchester United, he set the British record at £59.7 million. His transfer to his current team set a transfer fee record of £44 million.
María currently makes $21.7 million a year in salary and bonuses. His sponsorship with Adidas also earns him an extra $2 million in endorsements.
14. Luis Suárez- $23.6 million
- Club: FC Barcelona
- Salary & Bonus: $20.1M
- Endorsements: $3.5M
- Contract: Until 2021
- Country: Uruguay Age: 33
Uruguayan football player Luis Suárez, born on 24 January 1987, currently plays as a striker for Spain's Barcelona club and the Uruguay national team.
He is known for earning one of the most expensive transfer fees in soccer history. Barcelona paid 82.3 million euros for him to join the Blaugranas.
He presently earns $20.1 million in salary and bonuses from the team. His income is enhanced by his current sponsorship with Puma and others, which earns him $3.5 million per year. He signed with Puma this year after abandoning his former footwear sponsor Adidas.
He has scored 475 senior career goals for both club and country. While undeniably talented, Suárez is not without controversy. He has been benched for several games so far for biting other players and feigning injuries during games.
15. Sergio Agüero - $22.6 million
- Club: Manchester City
- Contract: Two years, $17.1 million
- Country: Argentina Age: 30
Argentine professional footballer Sergio Agüero, born on 2 June 1988, is known for his blend of agility, passing ability, intelligence, and perceptiveness as both a creator and scorer of goals. He presently plays for Premier League club Manchester City and the Argentine national team as a striker, earning $17.1 million in salary and bonuses.
His unique ability is reflected in his goal-scoring record. Moreover, he holds the joint record for the most goals scored during a Premier League game, scoring five goals within the span of 23 minutes. He additionally holds the record for most hat-tricks in the Premier League, with twelve.
Agüero has a long-running contract with Puma and has appeared in numerous ads and other media for the company. Pepsi has also signed up City star Sergio Agüero. In general, both sponsorships earn $5.5 million in endorsements annually.