The modern era of football is one where money and finance continue to steal the limelight over the talent and entertainment on the field.
From the increasingly questionable price-tags attached to youngsters (Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kylian Mbappe, Jadon Sancho to name a few) to the ever-increasing demands of high-profile footballers such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the game is very much played with cash in hand.
With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the top 10 highest paid footballers in the world 2019, providing accurate statistics, their latest endorsements, and whether the future points towards more of the green stuff for some of the most popular players around.
Bringing up the rear is…
10) Antoine Griezmann
The Frenchman announced via a video on Atletico Madrid’s official Twitter account that he would be leaving the Madrid club after five years of service, with 133 goals in 260 appearances. The club he is snubbing Los Colchoneros for is barely an hour away in Catalonia: Barcelona.
Which means that his current salary and bonus of 23.2 million per year will most likely peak again. While this will partly be down to the status that comes with playing at the Camp Nou, sponsors will also be key.
This is the man who scored or set up eight of the 14 goals by France that helped the country win the World Cup in 2018. There is very little surprise that the likes of Puma and Huawei have partnered with the 28-year-old ahead of the start of his time with Barca, earning him an extra 4.5 mil in the bank.
All in all, raking in 27.7 million per year may seem phenomenal for us writers, but for Griezmann, this will barely be the tip of the iceberg.
Not far behind is a player that Chelsea fans won’t be forgiving so quickly: Oscar.
Indeed, the Brazilian was only 25-years-old when he made the shocking move from Stamford Bridge to Shanghai SIPG in 2017. Sure, he also helped the Blues on their way to two Premier League titles in his five-year stint under Jose Mourinho. Yet the attraction to money and material things, regardless of the trophies he helped clinch, is what riles up some Chelsea fans to no end.
The move to the Chinese Super League means Oscar quadrupled his weekly take-home pay, amassing a whopping 25 million annually through to 2020. And it’s the kind of money that SIPG are willing to pay. Especially considering that the 27-year-old had a league-high record of 19 assists and 12 goals that helped the side in winning the league in 2018.
Yet, even with such an extensive yearly pay-check sent his way, he only racks up in 9th place in our top 10 highest paid footballers in the world 2019 edition…
8) Mesut Ozil
In February 2018, Ozil signed a contract extension with the Gunners tying him to the club until 2021 and doubling his annual pay to about 24 million.
While this may not reach the heights of Oscar’s yearly wages, the German usurps Oscar through his endorsements and sponsors. Partnered with Adidas, Mercedes Benz, and Beats by Dre is no mean feat. It means that regardless of the fact that Ozil has faced plenty of criticism in the last few years, both on the domestic and international stage, he still gains around 30 million, with a 23.7 million salary being boosted by 6.5 million via promotions.
Outside the world of football, Ozil has put the money to good use. The German and his fiancé, Amine Gülşe, celebrated their June 2019 nuptials by funding 1,000 life-changing surgeries for underprivileged children. A true Gooner indeed.
7) Kylian Mbappe
At the tender age of 20, the Frenchman rightly earns his place in our top 10 highest paid footballers in the world 2019.
Indeed, Mbappe has quickly risen from a Monaco loanee trying to break into the national side, to one of the richest of today’s footballing youth. He also contested within a World Cup-winning side, featuring alongside the likes of Edinson Cavani and Neymar Jr at Paris Saint-Germain.
His is a story unlike any other. Back in 2018, the then-19-year-old Mbappe became the youngest Frenchman to score in a World Cup, and the second-youngest player, after the legendary Pele, to score in a World Cup final. He also managed to clinch the 2018 World Cup Best Young Player Award alongside the accolade of being the 2019 Ligue 1 Player of the Year.
It was clear from the onset that the youngster would go on to set the world of football alight, and with his blistering pace, he hasn’t stopped since.
The PSG winger’s efforts have earned him a staggering annual salary of 26.6 million, with the likes of Nike and Watchmaker Hublot contributing with an extra four million in endorsements and sponsors.
30 million a year at 20-years-old? Mbappe will be laughing all the way to the bank.
6) Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez’s sorry tale at Manchester United at the very least saw him raking in the cash.
The Chilean forward sold his soul to the Red Devils who offered twice the weekly wages of what Pep Guardiola and his title-winning team put on the table. It turns out that opting for monetary gains over career-developing victories doesn’t end happily.
Indeed, the 30-year-old was earning anywhere in between 400,000 and 500,000 dollars per week for keeping the bench warm and the surgery table warmer. The solution seemed to be gifting Sanchez with an additional one-million-dollar bonus annually through to 2020; unfortunately, it didn’t really do wonders to his form and health.
Six goals in 37 appearances last season paled in comparison to the Sanchez who regularly lit up the league under Arsene Wenger for the Gunners; a kind of campaign that finally sees him move away from Manchester to Milan.
Perhaps time away from the Premier League will be the perfect tonic to kick-starting his career. Enjoying a healthy 30 million per year, with the Italian climate suited to his pace, the Chilean could make a last-gasp rise to stardom.
Whether his former side, United, can do the same is anyone’s guess. You can read ours in our 2019/20 Premier League season preview.
5) Andres Iniesta
He spent 22 years spent working his way through La Masia, through the first-team squad, and as captain of many title-winning sides. And in May 2018, Andres Iniesta finally moved on from Barcelona to Vissel Kobe in Japan.
The Spaniard was Barca’s ever-present figure throughout the Guardiola era, still at his peak under Ernesto Valverde, Luis Enrique and Tito Vilanova.
And even with retirement closing in on Iniesta, the 35-year-old continues to impress on the pitch. In actual fact, the annual wage of 32.5 million doesn’t tell half the story about the kind of coverage and endorsement that the midfielder brings in.
A quiet man, not one to be basking in the media limelight, a 2.5 million sponsorship deal with Asics combined with his own winery means the Spaniard is more than worth his time in our top 10 highest paid footballers in the world 2019.
4) Paul Pogba
Just missing out on third place is another controversial United player – Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman has been at the centre of the Glazers frustration for a couple of seasons now, impressing in flashes, disappointing all too often.
Yet the former Juventus striker is still a firm favourite within the squad under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. While players around him fall like pawns in Ed Woodward’s unpredictable transfer game, Pogba remains.
And his annual wages certainly prove it. The 26-year-old is claiming 33 million dollars per year, with four of those coming from the endorsements and sponsors that come attached with the Pogba label.
Continue at his current rate, and the French international will trump Sanchez’s 500,000-dollar weekly wage with ease. That’s if the Red Devils don’t allow him to escape their grasp in the next few years.
3) Neymar Jr.
The man claiming the bronze medal in the race to emerge as 2019’s richest footballer is none other than Neymar Jr.
For a player who went from Barca cult-hero to PSG outsider, the kind of chaotic year that the Brazilian has had would be enough to mess up the feathers of any footballer.
Aside from the ongoing drama between the 27-year-old and the Parisian football directors, Neymar was also at the centre of a rape allegation. Add that to a tax fraud case and injuries which saw watch on from the side-lines as Brazil won the 2019 Copa America.
But despite all this, Neymar’s wallet has not suffered. His initial transfer from Barcelona to the French capital still stands as the most expensive in the world. And his current five-year contract will see him snap up a whopping 35-million-dollar total to keep him at the top of this list through to June 2022.
2) Cristiano Ronaldo
In second place in our top 10 highest paid footballers in the world 2019 is a man who doesn’t come second often.
From multiple Champions League winners’ medals to lifting the historic La Liga trophy at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo is one of the richest and most successful men in the world, let alone football.
This year’s proceedings see him narrowly miss out on the top spot. The move from Madrid to Juventus saw him take a pay-cut to ensure he was able to join the defending Serie A champions.
But that’s by no means takes away from his annual earnings. Raking in a staggering 64 million dollars a year – which is without any bonuses or incentives – the Portuguese striker is instead taxed at an ordinary rate of 43%.
This is partly down to Italian-sourced income, but this structure certainly bodes well for Ronaldo. It means he can turn his undivided attention to winning medals, sponsorship deals, and the hearts of fans around the world.
Leading Juve to their eighth successful title this year has been a mere formality for the 34-year-old. In doing so he becomes the first player to win league titles in Italy, Spain and England.
1) Lionel Messi
Swaggering into pole position, as he has done in countless campaigns down the years, is one of the best footballers to have graced the great game that is football: Lionel Messi.
The Argentine finds himself in familiar territory in our top 10 highest paid footballers in the world 2019 edition. He topped the charts last year with earnings in the area of 127 million.
None of this would have come into fruition had Messi not signed a contract extension in the November of 2017. In doing so, and securing his football to be played at the Camp Nou until 2021, he hauled in 92 million in salary and bonuses – a 9.5% increase in what he made on the pitch last year.
Part of that is down to his performances on the pitch. Furthermore, regularly scoring over 30 goals in 10 seasons means that a number of bonus rewards are sent his way. But the presence the forward possesses as one of two players currently viewed as the best in the world (the other being Ronaldo) brings in much more revenue.
Messi is already partnered up with a rich list of sponsors, the like that Ronaldo, his sparring partner is yet to claim. From Adidas and Mastercard to Pepsi and high-end watchmaker Jacob & Co, the Argentine international is on a completely different dimension to the rest when it comes to annual wages – a deserved accolade indeed.