Soccer is not the most common sport in the United States, but it is growing in popularity. Although the United States has been slow to embrace the game, it is by far the most successful worldwide. Per year, billions of dollars are wagered on soccer matches around the world.
Although athletes such as LeBron James, Tiger Woods, and Patrick Mahomes may dominate television screens in the United States, soccer players are regarded like royalty in other countries. Several soccer superstars appear on Forbes’ annual list of the highest-paid players, and a few have also climbed to the top spot over the years.
“There are no American players on the list of the highest-paid soccer players, but that could change in the coming years.”
Christian Pulisic, a Pennsylvania native, is making a name for himself in the Premier League, while many other American youngsters have signed with several of Europe’s most prestigious clubs in recent years.
Mahomes signed a 10-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this week, which could total $500 million in compensation. This places him atop the list of the highest-paid NFL stars. It is a record for an American, so how does he compare to any of the world’s best soccer players?
The six highest-paid soccer players in the world in 2020 are listed below.
6. Alexis Sanchez ($30.8 Million)
Alexis Sanchez was once regarded as one of the world’s best defensive midfielders. Though the Chilean’s star has waned in recent seasons, he remains one of the most well-paid players on the planet. Sanchez’s salary for the 2019-20 season will be up to $31 million.
In reality, the majority of the money isn’t coming from the team he’s playing with.
In January 2018, Manchester United sent midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Arsenal in exchange for Sanchez. The move was intended to help the Red Devils reclaim their Premier League title. Regrettably, it did not work out. Alexis has only scored four goals in his United career, and he was loaned out to Inter Milan in August of last year.
United would like to sell Sanchez, but there aren’t many clubs willing to pay the steep asking price. Manchester United are practically left with Alexis and his huge paycheck for the time being.
5. Andres Iniesta ($32.5 Million)
Andres Iniesta is long past his prime, but he’s still being paid. The veteran is one of the most prolific Spanish soccer players in history, and he has spent the vast majority of his career with Barcelona, where he has won trophy after trophy. Around 2002 and 2018, Iniesta appeared in 442 games for the club.
Iniesta led Spain to the World Cup title in 2010, and he has claimed the UEFA European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
With Iniesta at the helm, Barcelona won nine La Liga championships and four Champions League titles. His credentials speak for themselves.
However, he revealed in 2018 that he will be leaving his long-standing club. Later that year, he signed a three-year contract with Vissel Kobe, a Japanese club. Since star stars are hard to come by in Japan, the club is able to pay him $30 million in salaries. Iniesta also raises $2.5 million in endorsements a year.
4. Paul Pogba ($33 Million)
For years, Paul Pogba has been regarded as one of Europe’s top young players. While being just 26 years old, the Frenchman has already earned a host of honors. He was instrumental in France’s World Cup victory in Russia in 2018, and he won Serie A titles in all four seasons he spent with Juventus between 2012 and 2016.
When Pogba returned to his original side, Manchester United, in 2016, he became the most valuable player in the world.
United paid just over $100 million to get Pogba back to Old Trafford, a club record at the moment. It is also the most money ever spent on a player by an English club. Sadly, Pogba, like Alexis, has been unable to win trophies since moving to England.
In Pogba’s first year back, United won the EFL Cup and the Europa League, but the club hasn’t won anything yet. He had a strained friendship with former manager Jose Mourinho, but things seem to be improving under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Pogba has scored 24 goals in 103 games since rejoining United, where he is paid $29 million a year. He receives an additional $4 million a year in endorsements.
3. Neymar ($105 Million)
As can be said, there is a significant difference in pay between the fourth-highest paying player and the third-highest paid player. Neymar, like Pogba, has been on everyone’s radar for quite some time. Despite the fact that he is only 28 years old, the Brazilian already has a lengthy resume.
Neymar rose to prominence at Barcelona alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, but he allegedly grew tired of being overlooked by the club’s bigger stars. As a result, he made his way back in 2017. Paris St. Germain called. The French giants paid a staggering €222 million for Neymar in August of 2017, which remains the largest amount ever paid for a single player by any club.
Neymar has helped PSG back to the top of the French table, but the club is also looking for European glory. While being one of the world’s most expensive clubs, Paris Saint-Germain are yet to win the Champions League.Since his international debut at the age of 18, Neymar has scored 61 goals in 101 games for Brazil, and he guided the team to a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in his home country.
PSG owes Neymar $75 million in compensation, which is far more than any American athlete currently receives. He signed an 11-year endorsement contract with Nike in 2011, and he also has sponsorship deals with MasterCard, EA Sports, and Red Bull. Every year, Neymar earns an additional $30 million in endorsement income.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo ($109 Million)
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player in history to score at least 25 goals in three of Europe’s top leagues earlier this year. He’s now doing so in England, Spain, and Italy. Ronaldo, perhaps the most popular athlete on the planet, signed a four-year deal with Juventus in the summer of 2018 after spending the previous ten years of his career with Real Madrid, where he won every trophy under the sun.
In 2018, Juventus spent $117 million for the goal-scorer. Ronaldo is paid $65 million a year by the Italian giants. He is now one of only three celebrities in the world to have a Nike lifetime sponsorship contract.
Michael Jordan and LeBron James are the others, of course. Ronaldo raises $44 million a year from a variety of endorsement transactions.
Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or five times, the most recently in 2017. With an unlikely win at the 2016 Euros, he led Portugal to the country’s first foreign trophy. In 2018-19, Ronaldo led Juventus to the Serie A championship. Although Real Madrid only won two La Liga titles during his lifetime, Los Blancos did win the Champions League four times, with Ronaldo leading the way each time. In 2007-08, the Portuguese superstar has helped Manchester United secure three Premier League titles and a Champions League title.
1. Lionel Messi ($127 Million)
Who would you expect to be No. 1 if Ronaldo was No. 2? Lionel Messi has long had a rivalry with Cristiano, but the force seems to have waned after Cristiano’s aforementioned move to Italy a couple of years ago.
If Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t the greatest player in the world, Messi is. Messi scored his 700th career goal earlier this year, and he’s another player who’s won just about anything. About the fact that neither Ronaldo nor Messi has won a World Cup, they have both had outstanding international careers. Messi has scored 70 goals for Argentian in addition to his 441 goals for Barcelona.
Messi has been an Adidas athlete since 2006, and he was the highest-paid soccer player in the world five times between 2009 and 2014.
His influence stretches beyond the game, as Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 and 2012.
Though Messi’s time at Camp Nou could be coming to an end, it’s fair to say he’ll continue to put up big numbers wherever he ends up. Messi captured his sixth Ballon d’Or in 2019, putting him one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo for the most in history. Barcelona has won La Liga ten times with Messi on the team, as well as six Copa Del Reys, eight Supercopa de Espanas, and four Champions Leagues.
Barcelona pays Messi $92 million in salaries and incentives each year. In addition to his lifetime contract with Adidas, the Argentine has endorsement deals with Gatorade and Pepsi that cost him an additional $35 million a year. Messi’s gross net worth is estimated to be more than $400 million, making him one of the wealthiest athletes of all time.