Football is a sport that attracts millions of fans and players around the world, but also generates huge amounts of money for the top performers. Some of the best footballers in the world earn staggering salaries from their clubs, as well as lucrative endorsement deals from major brands. But who is the richest footballer in the world?
Richest Footballer in the World
Cristiano Ronaldo has shocked the world of football by joining Al-Nassr, a Saudi Arabian club, in a move that is motivated by money rather than glory. Ronaldo was already one of the richest footballers in the world, thanks to his successful spells at Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United.
He also had lucrative endorsements from various brands and sponsors. But now he has taken his earnings to a new level by signing a contract that pays him $75 million a year at Al-Nassr, without counting the bonuses and incentives that could double that amount. Ronaldo’s new deal puts him far ahead of the other football stars in terms of salary.
Kylian Mbappe, who signed a contract extension with Paris Saint-Germain in 2022, is the second highest-paid footballer with a basic salary of $63 million a year. Neymar, who plays alongside Mbappe at PSG, is the third highest-paid with $48 million a year.
Lionel Messi, who left Barcelona for Manchester City in 2022, is the fourth highest-paid with $40.5 million a year. Ronaldo’s monthly salary of €16 million is more than four times that of Messi, who earns €3.375 million a month.
Mbappe and Neymar earn €7 million and €4 million a month, respectively. These figures show how Ronaldo has become the undisputed king of football wealth, leaving his rivals far behind.
Faiq Bolkiah – $20billion
Faiq Bolkiah is a footballer who plays for Chonburi, a club in Thailand. He was born in the United States, but grew up in England, where he joined the academies of Southampton, Leicester and Chelsea. He also played for Maritimo in Portugal, and is the captain of Brunei’s national team.
But what makes him the richest footballer in the world is not his football career, but his royal lineage. Faiq is the son of Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, and the nephew of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the ruler of the wealthy oil-producing nation. Faiq’s family has an estimated net worth of $28 billion, making him the richest footballer by far.
Mathieu Flamini – $14billion
Mathieu Flamini, a former Arsenal player who did not receive much fame, has achieved great success in his post-football career. He is the co-founder of GF Biochemicals, a company that has pioneered the mass-production of levulinic acid. This is a molecule derived from plant waste that can replace petrol as a fuel source.
His company, which he established with his partner Pasquale Granata, has made him a billionaire. His net worth is estimated to be over $10 billion, which is more than the value of his former club.
Cristiano Ronaldo – $500million
CR7 is more than a football player, he is a brand with a huge global reach. He has a massive fan base on Instagram, with 527 million followers. This makes him a very attractive partner for many businesses. He may be more valuable as a corporate ambassador than as a footballer. Erik ten Hag would agree.
He left Manchester United in a controversial move before the 2022 World Cup. He also failed to achieve his dream of winning the trophy in Qatar. He became a free agent and had many options, but no European club wanted to sign the five-times Ballon d’Or winner after his Manchester United fiasco. In December 2022, he joined Saudi club Al-Nassr for a staggering €200m (£177m) per year – or £3.3m per week.
His salary accounts for about $75m (£62m) of that amount, while the rest comes from image rights and commercial deals. He is also expected to promote Saudi Arabia’s 2030 World Cup bid.
David Beckham – $400million
David Beckham, the co-owner of Inter Miami, is a global icon who rose to fame as a footballer. He was part of the legendary Class of 92 at Manchester United, a star at Real Madrid and also played for AC Milan, LA Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain. He married Victoria ‘Posh Spice’ Beckham and became a trendsetter in fashion.
He is still sought after by many brands even after he retired from playing. He has deals with H&M, Tudor, Haig Whiskey, Armani, Breitling and more. He also earned £10million as an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup.
Lionel Messi – $400million
Messi, the World Cup winner, has been a phenomenon in football since he started his professional career in 2004. He scored almost 1,000 goals and assists at Barcelona before joining PSG in 2021.
He is regarded as the best player of all time for his amazing skills and dribbling. However, he is not the top earner in this list, as he is behind his rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
He earns a whopping €3.375million a month at PSG, and he also has lucrative deals with Adidas, Pepsi, MasterCard and Budweiser. He has achieved the ultimate glory on the pitch with the World Cup, and he also enjoys a great life off it.
Dave Whelan – $220million
You may be surprised to see Dave Whelan above Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in this list of footballers’ net worth. But the former Wigan Athletic owner was not just a footballer, he was also a successful businessman. He played as a full-back for Blackburn and Crewe, but his career was cut short by a leg injury in the FA Cup final.
He then switched to the retail industry and started his own market stall before he retired from football before he turned 30. He acquired Wigan Athletic in 1995 and transformed them from a Division Three club to a Premier League club, winning the FA Cup in 2013.
Neymar – $200million
Neymar is one of the most famous and richest footballers in the world, ranking seventh on our list. He has achieved almost everything at the club level, except for the Champions League trophy.
The Brazilian star became the world’s best paid player when he joined PSG from Barcelona. He also has lucrative deals with Puma and Nike, as well as appearances in two movies. He is a global icon and a household name, with millions of fans and followers.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – $190million
Zlatan is one of the most successful and wealthy footballers in the world, with nearly 600 goals for various clubs. He has played for some of the biggest teams in the world, such as Barcelona, PSG, Manchester United and AC Milan, and won over 30 trophies in his career.
He is still going strong at 41 years old, scoring goals and leading AC Milan in the Italian league.
He has earned huge amounts of money from his salaries, his bestselling autobiography and his numerous endorsements. He has a net worth that matches his confidence.
Ronaldo – $160million
R9, also known as the original Ronaldo, was a master of scoring goals. He netted 295 times for some of the biggest clubs in the world, such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter and AC Milan.
He also won the World Cup with Brazil, where he scored 62 goals for his country. He has a successful business career after retiring from football. He is the main owner of Real Valladolid in Spain and Cruzeiro in Brazil.
Kylain Mbappe – $150million
Mbappe signed a huge contract extension in May 2022, which will earn him a staggering €630m in gross salary over the next three years.
He will also pocket a €180m signing bonus, regardless of whether he stays until 2025 or not. And he will get another €69m for his loyalty.
He has a impressive net worth that includes partnerships with Nike, EA Sports and Hublot. But he can expect to make even more money from his image rights, which he now has more control over.
Alexandre Pato – $145million
Alexandre Pato is the first footballer in the top 10 richest list, despite not fulfilling his potential as a Brazilian prodigy in 2006. He is still in his early 30s, but he has played for many clubs, including AC Milan in Italy, Chelsea in England, Villarreal in Spain, Tianjin in China, and Orlando City in the MLS.
Pato has a huge net worth thanks to his smart investments, his large property portfolio and his endorsement contracts with CoverGirl cosmetics. He also has his own businesses, such as a burger chain in Brasilia, a vodka brand and a fashion line.
Wayne Rooney – $145million
As the top scorer for both England and Manchester United, with 51 and 253 goals respectively, the former striker and current DC United head coach has amassed a fortune of $145million.
His wealth comes from his contracts, including a lucrative stint in the MLS, as well as endorsements and image rights. He also showed his generosity when he was the manager of Derby County, a club with financial troubles, by delaying his salary to ensure the players got paid.
Gareth Bale – $145million
Gareth Bale was a star at Spurs before joining Real Madrid as a Galactico, where he earned around $30million a year in wages.
That’s why it was shocking when he agreed to a massive pay cut to move to LAFC in the MLS, making only £100,000 a week. That’s nothing compared to the others on this list.
He has also boosted his income from endorsement deals with various brands in his career such as Adidas, EA Sports, Lucozade and BT Sport. And he makes a nice amount from sponsored posts to his 50million Instagram followers. With his huge wealth, he can easily pursue his passion for golf, now that his football career is over.
Francesco Totti – $110million
Francesco Totti is the ‘King of Rome’ and he spent his whole career playing for one club. He didn’t win many trophies at club level, only one Serie A and two Coppa Italias, so he’s not very high on the list in terms of silverware compared to others. But he does have a World Cup to his name, so he has one more than Ronaldo.
He is like the Italian version of David Beckham and he is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and does a lot of charity work. He also had many endorsement deals as a player with Nike, Pepsi, Fiat, EA Sports and several modelling deals. However, his ongoing bitter divorce with tv presenter wife Ilary Blasi in 2022 will hurt his bank balance.
Eden Hazard – $100million
He is the Real Madrid Eden Hazard winger who is famous for his time with Chelsea where he won the PFA and Premier League Player of the Season award in 2014/15. He has been a champion in France, England and Spain and he was the leader of Belgium, for whom he has played over 100 times since his first appearance in 2008.
He hasn’t been very successful at the Bernabeu but he still managed to increase his net worth to $100million thanks to a huge contract and endorsements.