The world’s highest paid footballers

The world’s highest paid footballers

As much as fans would like to think otherwise, elite modern football is unashamedly centred around cold, hard and often dirty cash.

With transfer fees rising exponentially, player wages skyrocketing and lucrative brand deals reaching new peaks, exorbitant sums of money are now the beating black heart of the beautiful game.

The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are, rather unsurprisingly, among the highest earning players across the world, but even football’s mediocre talents seem to earn a small fortune on a weekly basis these days.

Here are football’s biggest earners around the world.

*All salary data courtesy of Capology

Premier League

Man City boast some big earners / Matt McNulty/GettyImages

Branded as the ‘best league in the world’, logic would suggest the Premier League also boasts the highest earners. That’s not strictly true these days, although the English top flight does have the highest average wage of any European league – bettered only by the Saudi Pro League.

Given their exceptional wealth, it’s hardly surprising that Manchester City have the highest paid player in the division on their roster. That’s Kevin De Bruyne (£400,000 p/w), whose incredible quality justifiably sets him out from the rest of the Premier League, although he is closely followed by his merciless teammate Erling Haaland (£375,000 p/w).

Rather unbelievably given their recent performances, the Manchester United duo of Casemiro (£350,000 p/w) and Raphael Varane (£340,000 p/w) are in the top five Premier League earners, while Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah sits joint third with a weekly wage of £350,000.

La Liga

De Jong has drained Barca’s finances / Pedro Salado/GettyImages

La Liga frequently boasted the highest earners in world football during the days when Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar all represented the division, but wages don’t reach quite as high now. Having said that, there are still some opulent footballers in the Spanish top flight.

The biggest earner in Spain is Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who earns £620,000 per week in Catalonia. The club’s financial position makes paying the Dutch international such sums a significant problem and it’s one of the reasons he is often linked with a move away from Barca in every transfer window.

Barca also boast the second top earner in Robert Lewandowski (£449,000 p/w), another talented star who takes up a huge chunk of their wage bill, but it’s Real Madrid who make up the rest of the top five.

The veterans in Real’s squad have been rewarded for their years of service, with Toni Kroos earning £404,000 per week and Luka Modric bringing home £362,000 per week. Defender David Alaba also does pretty well for himself, earning £373,000 on a weekly basis.


Kane made the lucrative move to Bayern Munich in 2023 / Luciano Lima/GettyImages

Unsurprisingly, it’s England captain Harry Kane who leads the way in the Bundesliga. The acquisition of the former Tottenham forward was seen as a major coup for German football, with the prolific centre-forward rewarded with a wage of £414,000 every seven days.

Bayern Munich actually employ the 11 highest earners in the German top flight, with club legends Manuel Neuer (£348,000 p/w) and Thomas Muller (£348,000 p/w) closest to Kane.

It’s quite a significant drop off to the highest paid player that doesn’t don the red and white of Bayern, with Borussia Dortmund forward Sebastien Haller (£182,000 p/w) the leading money-maker outside of Munich.

Serie A

Vlahovic is Serie A’s highest-paid player / Nicolò Campo/GettyImages

Serie A once boasted some of the world’s elite stars and richest footballers, but those years have long passed. It speaks volumes that Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic earns more than any other player in Italy (£215,000), closely followed by Napoli star Victor Osimhen (£212,000) – although he’s likely to be leaving the league this summer.

Both Juventus and Inter dominate Serie A when it comes to finances, with Osimhen the only player not to play for those clubs in the league’s top ten earners. Wojciech Szczesny (£199,000 p/w) and Alex Sandro (£184,000 p/w) are somewhat surprisingly the division’s third and fourth highest paid stars.

Ligue 1

Kylian Mbappe earns a fortune in France / BSR Agency/GettyImages

It’s not tough to guess who earns the most in Ligue 1, although he’s extremely unlikely to be making a living in France next season. It is, of course, Kylian Mbappe we refer to, with the Paris Saint-Germain superstar taking home an astonishing £1.19m every week. That’s before you even consider his sponsorship deals and performance bonuses.

It’s a mighty old drop down to Ligue 1’s second highest paid player in Ousmane Dembele, with the former Barcelona star making a comparatively measly £331,000 per week. Lucas Hernandez is not too far behind, taking home approximately £16,000 less than Dembele every week.

You have to look all the way down to the 14th highest earner in Ligue 1 to find a player who doesn’t play for PSG, with sharpshooter Wissam Ben Yedder of Monaco earning £129,000 every week. To put that into context, Mbappe earns nine times more than him.

It’s ridiculous how much Ronaldo earns / Yasser Bakhsh/GettyImages

Mbappe’s wages look pretty pathetic in comparison to some of the best paid professionals in the new financial powerhouse of modern football – the Saudi Pro League. As you may have assumed, Ronaldo earns more than any other player in world football at Al Nassr with a weekly wage of £3.31m. That’s simply insane.

A little further behind him are Al Hilal’s Neymar and Al Ittihad’s Karim Benzema (£1.66m p/w each), while even Riyad Mahrez is better paid than any footballer in Europe bar Mbappe, claiming £865,000 every seven days.

There are some big earners in Major League Soccer in the United States, but they are nowhere near the levels of the Saudi Pro League. Eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is the leading money-maker in North America, but his salary of £185,000 pales in comparison to his old foe Ronaldo.

It’s no surprise that companies want a piece of Lionel Messi / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

This is where things get even more complicated, with footballers, much like the majority of athletes, earning vast sums for their activities off the pitch as well as on it. However, thanks to Forbes, we can see some off the biggest off-field earners in world football.

Ronaldo and Messi lead the way when it comes to this particular category, with the Argentine edging this financial battle by earning £56m per year off the field in addition to his base salary. In contrast, his Portuguese rival brings home a pretty handsome £48m annually.


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