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Who are the top 10 highest-earning football players?

Messi, Neymar and Mbappé are among the top five highest earners in football, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mo Salah rounding off the podium.

Mbappé overtakes Ronaldo and Messi as highest-earning player
Aurelien Meunier - PSGGetty

The website Sportico, which specializes in the sports industry, has published a top 10 of the best-paid football players in the world, taking into account sponsorship and salaries. with the highest income from their sponsorships.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the world of football for more than a decade, but the 37-year-old Portuguese and the 35-year-old Argentine are into the twilights of their careers and a new generation is beginning to impose itself on the pitch and among sponsors, led by Kylian Mbappé. The 23-year-old France striker has already established himself as the successor to Messi and Ronaldo’s throne.

Mbappé the man of the moment

According to Sportico, the PSG striker receives a salary of €105 million from his club and a further €20m from sponsors including Nike, Mengniu, Hublot, Electronic Arts, Christian Dior and Oakley, for a total of €125m, making Mbappé the highest-earning player in the world.

Second on the list is Cristiano Ronaldo, the only player who has a higher income from sponsorships than salary. Manchester United pays the Portuguese a salary of €53m, but it is the CR7 brand that lines Ronaldo’s pockets through clothing, fragrances, a chain of hotels and gyms. The forward also has sponsorships with Nike, Herbalife, Livescore, Altice, Talabat, Therabody and eCampus, which have contributed €60m this season for a total of €113m, placing Ronaldo above Messi and Neymar.

The 10 highest paid soccer players, according to Sportico.
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The 10 highest paid soccer players, according to Sportico.

Messi only behind Mbappé in on-pitch earnings

The top three is completed by Messi, who earns a higher salary than the Portuguese. PSG pays €62m for Messi’s services, the second-highest salary in world football after his teammate Mbappé and above Neymar. Messi derives income from sponsorship and marketing of €48m with Adidas his main sponsor, for a total of €113m.

Neymar the third-highest paid player in terms of salary

Neymar also surpasses Cristiano in terms of salary and is the third highest-paid player in the world, with an income of €56m from PSG. However, the Brazilian’s image has been marketed by dozens of brands over years and he has an agreement with Puma that generates an income of €10m per season. Sportico points out that the Brazilian has more than a dozen commercial agreements in place worth €35m for a total income of €91m for this season.

Beyond the obvious big earners there are some unexpected names on the list, such as Eden Hazard, who is ranked sixth. The Belgian is the fifth highest-paid player on the list with a salary at Real Madrid of €28.6m but his income from sponsorships stands at just €2.5m.

Iniesta a surprise addition to the top 10

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the inclusion on the list of Andrés Iniesta, who since leaving Barcelona for Japan in 2018 has largely been out of the headlines. The former Spain midfielder earns €23m a season at Vissel Kobe, more than other players on the list such as Antoine Griezmann and Raheem Sterling. In addition, he has struck marketing agreements in Japan to the tune of €7m.