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, 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.) Gareth Bale
Now back on loan at his spiritual home with Spurs, Gareth Bale is thought to earning more than £2 million per month, with parent club Real Madrid making up a massive part of the vast sum.
With Bale making minimal contributions to the team’s floundering season, Spurs will be thankful Los Blancos were so desperate to shift the Welshman from their ranks that were happy to part with sack-fulls of cash just to be shot of him.
It wasn’t always that way, however.
There was a time when the Spanish giants were glad to have him and he even scored one of the all time great Champions League goals when Real Madrid beat Liverpool to win the European Champions League in 2018.
But then he fell out with manager Zinedine Zidane and became the world’s most expensive bench warmer thereafter before a return to North London beckoned.
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) Robert Lewandowski
In the 2029/20 season, Polish striker took just 47 matches to score 55 goals and make a further 10 assists for Bayern Munich.
He even scored in every match of Bayern’s successful Champions League campaign, bar the final.
He was well within his rights then to curse his luck when France Football cancelled that year’s Ballon d’Or, the award for the world’s best player, a trophy he was a shoe-in to win.
Picking up £1.4 million per month, he is deservedly one of the highest paid players on earth.
Now 32, the Bundesliga’s all-time leading foreign goal scorer isn’t showing any signs of anytime soon.
The 32 year also happens to be king of the TikTok, where he has established a following of 3.9m followers.
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.