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Top ten highest paid soccer players in the world: eight in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Pro League has had a huge impact on the global game in recent months as it continues to plow billions into the bank accounts of the stars.

The Saudi Pro League has had a huge impact on the global game in recent months as it continues to plow billions into the bank accounts of the stars.

The arrival of Neymar at Al Hilal for two seasons in exchange for over $100 million in each has once again highlighted the substantial amounts of money that the stars of The Beautiful Game are receiving when they decide to make the move to Saudi Arabia. And with that, not that he was struggling to put food on the table before, the Brazilian immediately entered the Top 3 highest paid players on the planet.

Cristiano, Messi, Neymar... making ends meet

French paper Le Parisien has compiled a ranking of the highest salaries -- remember this doesn’t include other revenue streams -- and the dominance of Saudi Arabia is staggering. The first big move was made by Al Nassr with the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo as the Portuguese forward committed until 2025 after parting ways with Manchester United for a fee of $200 million per season. The floodgates opened with a similar figure being lined up for Real Madrid’s scoring legend Karim Benzema for each of the three campaigns he dons the Al Ittihad jersey.

In the third spot on the podium stands Neymar, who signed with Al Hilal (the other prominent club in Saudi Arabia) in exchange for just over $100 million per year. A comparable sum to what N’Golo Kanté will be earning for rejecting Chelsea’s contract renewal offer and embarking on the Al Ittihad adventure until 2026.

According to Le Parisien’s ranking, only two footballers in the top 10 have not made the lucrative Saudi leap. In 5th position is Kylian Mbappé, who is earning around $70 million per season with Paris Saint-Germain, although has an uncertain time ahead of him. Then we have a certain Lionel Messi, albeit with a significant gap compared to those above him, projected to earn $45 million per campaign with Inter Miami until 2025. He does though have his fingers in related MLS Apple pies.

Remember kids, as several of these players have said, it’s not really the money that caught their eye and that of their modest entourages, it’s the chance of a new sporting challenge that drives their ambition.

Top-10 salaries

PlayerTeamSalary (approx.)
Cristiano RonaldoAl Nassr$200M
Karim BenzemaAl Ittihad$200M
Neymar JrAl Hilal$100M
N’Golo KanteAl Ittihad$100M
Kylian MbappéPSG$70M
Lionel MessiInter Miami$45M
Sadio ManéAl Nassr$40M
Jordan HendersonAl Ettifaq$40M
Riyad MahrezAl-Ahli$35M
Kalidou KoulibalyAl Hilal$30M

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