With over 250 million players and even more fans, football is the world’s most popular sport. Football’s massive player base and audience create endless opportunities for money to be made for companies and athletes alike. The real money, however, is made by the professionals. These elite athletes are adored and looked up to by millions. Every season, they go head-on against other elite football players for titles, championships – and millions of dollars.
Top 10 Highest Paid Soccer Players In the World
Without further adieu, let’s take a look at some of the highest-paid football players (soccer players if you’re American) in 2024.
10. David De Gea – $27 Million
David de Gea is a professional football player who plays for the Spain National Team. Not only that, but he’s also a goalkeeper for Manchester United. In fact, he’s widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Born in Madrid, he was raised in the town of Illescas, where he began playing soccer at a young age. By the time he was thirteen, he had joined Atletico Madrid. Not long afterward, he was recruited to Diego Diaz Garrido after his coach lied and said that he was about to sign with Rayo Vallecano.
A few years later, he signed his first professional contract; he was seventeen at the time. After a few years of playing with Atleti, he was transferred to Manchester United for approximately £19 million in 2011. Since then, he has made more than 450 appearances. He also participated in the 2012 Summer Olympics and was selected for the 2014 World Cup. That’s not all, he’s also won a League Cup, Premier League title, the UEFA European League, and an FA Cup.
He currently earns a weekly salary of £375,000, which makes him one of the highest-paid soccer players in the world.
9. Robert Lewandowksi – $28 Million
Robert Lewandowski is the captain of the Poland National Football Team. Since 2022, he has also been playing as a striker for Barcelona. Known for his technique and positioning, he has scored more than 600 goals throughout his senior career.
Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, he played with the MKS Varsovia Warsaw for several years as a teen before joining Znicz Pruskow in 2006. Not long afterward, he signed with Lech Poznan for 1.5 million PLN. He went on to play with them for several seasons before transferring to Borussia Dortmund in 2010. And in 2014, he joined Bayern Munich.
Since then, he has won a UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award, and Best FIFA Men’s Player Award, and has been named VDV Bundesliga Player of the Season five times. He has also received four Guinness World Records for his record-breaking goals while playing against VfL Wolfsburg and has been awarded the Bundesliga Top Scorer Award seven times.
He currently makes approximately €173,076 per week.
8. Gareth Bale – $29 Million
Gareth Bale is a Welsh professional soccer player who plays for the Wales National Team. He also plays for the Los Angeles FC and is considered one of the best wingers of his generation. Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards including FWA Footballer of the Year Award, PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award, and PFA Young Player of the Year Award.
Born in Cardiff, Wales, Bale went to school in Whitchurch, where he developed a passion for football. Growing up, he admired Ryan Giggs, who played for Manchester United. At the age of 16, he became the youngest athlete to have ever played for Southampton. That same year, he won a Carwyn James Award and was named Football League Young Player of the Year.
By 2007, he had signed a £5 million deal with Tottenham Hotspur. He ultimately played with them for six years before transferring to Real Madrid. And during the 2020-2021 season, he was loaned back to the Spurs where he helped them win against Brighton & Hove Albion.
As of 2024, he earns approximately £528,000 per week.
7. Antoine Griezmann – $33 Million
Antoine Griezmann is a French professional soccer player. Since 2021, he has been playing for Atletico Madrid, on loan from the France National Team and Barcelona. A versatile player, he’s known for his passing and attacking and has played as a striker, winger, and attacking midfielder throughout his career.
Born and raised in the city of Mâcon, he began playing for the hometown club before trying out with different professional clubs. After several rejections, he was given a one-week trial by the Spanish club, Real Sociedad. They later offered him a formal contract, which he accepted.
In 2009, he made his senior debut with Real Sociedad, whom he won the Segunda Division with. He went on to play with them until 2014, when he was transferred to Atletico Madrid. He was later transferred to Barcelona for a record-breaking €120 million, making him one of the most expensive players of all time. With the team, he won a Copa del Rey and became one of the top goal scorers of the club.
He currently makes a weekly salary of £351,000.
6. Paul Pogba – $34 Million
Paul Pogba plays for the France National Team and the Juventus Football Team. While he’s primarily a central midfielder, he has also played as a defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder, and left winger.
Born in the eastern suburbs of Lagny-sur-Marne, he joined the LeHavre youth team with whom he played for two years before transferring to Manchester United in 2009. He later departed to join Juventus in 2012. With them, he won two Coppa Italia, four Serie A titles, and two Supercoppa Italiana titles. He was also named to the UEFA Team of the Year in 2015 after helping them to the Champions League Final.
In 2016, he returned to Manchester United for a transfer fee of €105 million. He went on to play with them for severals years before returning to Juventus for a four-year contract in 2022. Due to a meniscus injury, however, he was sidelined for two months following his return.
He currently makes £290,000 per week and has a sponsorship deal with Adidas.
5. Mohamed Salah – $37 Million
Mohamed Sarah is the captain of the Egypt National Team. He also plays as a right wing or as a forward for Liverpool. Known for his speed, dribbling, and finishing, he’s often regarded as one of the greatest African footballers of all time.
At the age of 18, he joined Al Mokawloon, with whom he started his senior career. He later left to join Basel in 2012 and with them, he won two Swiss Super League titles. Two years later, he transferred to Chelsea for approximately £11 million. Due to limited game time, however, was loaned to Roma and Fiorentina, the former of whom eventually offered him €15 million for a permanent position.
However, he was only with them until 2017. That year, he was transferred to Liverpool for a record-breaking £36.9 million. Since then, he has helped them get to the UEFA Champions League Final. He has also received a number of individual accolades including a Premier League Player of the Season Award, two PFA Players’ Player of the Year Awards, and a FIFA Puskas Award. He also competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics, where he received the title of CAF Most Promising African Talent of the Year.
He currently makes approximately £350,000 a week. He also has a sponsorship deal with Adidas and had appeared in their 2018 World Cup commercial alongside David Beckham, Paul Pogba, and Lionel Messi.
4. Kylian Mbappe – $42 Million
Kylian Mbappe plays for the France National Team and for Paris Saint-Germain. Known for his speed, dribbling, close ball control, and tactical intelligence, he’s considered to be one of the best footballers in the world.
Born in Paris, he grew up in the suburbs where he began his soccer career. Coached by his father, he was invited to train with Real Madrid when he was eleven years old. He later made his senior debut with Monaco, which he joined in 2015. From there, he became the youngest French footballer to score at a World Cup in 2018.
Since then, he has been named to the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season and the UEFA Team of the Year. He also received the Golden Boy in 2017 and more recently, a Globe Soccer Best Player of the Year Award. That’s not all, he has also received the Ligue 1 Player of the Year title three times. And in 2018, he received France’s highest order of merit, the Knight of the Legion of Honour.
He currently has a sponsorship deal with Nike and Hublot, the latter of which signed him as their global ambassador. He was also featured in the FIFA video game series, where he had the highest rating of 94.
His weekly earnings are approximately £413,000.
3. Neymar – $95 Million
Neymar plays for the Brazil National Team and for Paris Saint-Germain. Throughout his career, he has scored more than 100 goals for three different clubs. He’s also versatile in that he can play as a winger, second striker, attacking midfielder, or central striker.
The son of a former footballer, he began playing as a young child in Sao Vicente. He and his family eventually moved to Santos, where he joined the Santos football club. By the time he was seventeen, he had signed his first professional contract. He eventually made his debut in 2009, where he and the team played against Oeste. After a successful career with Santos, whom he won two Campeonata Paulista championships with, he transferred to Barcelona in 2013 for a fee of €57.1 million, where he became known as member of their attacking trio with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
In 2017, he transferred to Paris Saint-Germain in a move worth €222 million. With them, he received several donors including four league titles. Not only that, but he was also named Ligue 1 Player of the Year during his debut season.
Since his rinse to prominence, he has signed numerous sponsorship deals including those with Puma, Nike, Panasonic, and Volkswagen. It’s estimated that he earns £606,000 per week.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – $120 Million
Cristiano Ronaldo is the captain of the Portugal National Team. He also plays for Manchester United and is one of only a handful of footballers to have made more than 1,100 professional career appearances. Not only that, but he has also scored over 800 goals throughout his senior career and has won two Supercoppe Italiana, two Series A titles, and a Cuppa Italia.
Born in Funchal, Portugal, Ronaldo began is senior career with Sporting CP before signing with Manchester United at the age of eighteen. With them, he won three Premiere League titles, the FIFA Club World Cup, and the Champions League. Later in 2009, he transferred to Real Madrid for €94 million. He would go on to win more than a dozen trophies with the team including two Copa del Rey and two La Liga titles.
After playing with Real Madrid for nearly ten years, he signed for Juventus in a transfer worth €100 million, making him the most expensive player over 30 years old (and the most expensive transfer for an Italian club).
One of the highest paid athletes in the world, he has been featured in Forbes and ESPN and was included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. The first soccer player to have earned $1 billion in his career, he currently earns £480,000 per week.
1. Lionel Messi – $130 Million
Lionel Messi is the captain of the Argentina National Team. He has also been playing as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain since 2021. One of the most famous footballers of all time, he has won a total of six European Golden Shoes and seven Ballon d’Or Awards. He was also named to the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020 at the age of 33. A prolific goalscorer, he currently holds the most goals in La Liga and the most hat-tricks in La Liga.
Born and raised in Argentina, he began playing for Barcelona at the age of 13. He eventually made his competitive debut with them in 2004. By 2011, he had won four consecutive Ballons d’Or, making him the first footballer to achieve such a feat. He later received his fifth Ballon d’Or in 2015.
In July 2021, he announced that his contract with Barcelona had expired and that he would not be staying at the club. He subsequently signed a two-year contract with the French club, Paris Saint-Germain, with an option for a third year. After testing positive for COVID-19, however, he went on to miss several games, including two league matches. He eventually made his return in January 2022 in a game against Reims.
Not only is he the leading brand endorser of Adidas, but he has also signed sponsorship contracts with Konami, Pepsi, and other companies. He has also appeared in EA Sports’ FIFA game series (he appeared on the covers of FIFA 13, 14, 15, and 16). As of 2024, it’s estimated that he brings home €729,000 a week.