The best football players' pay has skyrocketed in recent years, particularly after large international corporations, oligarchs, and oil-producing governments became club owners. The highest-paid players in the game have also been greatly impacted by the formation of the Saudi Pro League.
Based on their yearly salaries, the top 10 football players in the world in terms of income in 2023 are examined below.
|Rank||Player||Club||On-Field Earnings||Off-Field Earnings||Total Earnings|
|1||Cristiano Ronaldo||Al Nassr||$200 million||$60 million||$260 million|
|2||Lionel Messi||Inter Miami||$65 million||$70 million||$135 million|
|3||Neymar Jr.||Al Hilal||$80 million||$32 million||$112 million|
|4||Kylian Mbappé||Paris Saint-Germain||$90 million||$20 million||$110 million|
|5||Karim Benzema||Al Ittihad||$100 million||$6 million||$106 million|
|6||Erling Haaland||Manchester City||$46 million||$12 million||$58 million|
|7||Mohamed Salah||Liverpool||$35 million||$18 million||$53 million|
|8||Sadio Mané||Al Nassr||$48 million||$4 million||$52 million|
|9||Kevin De Bruyne||Manchester City||$35 million||$4 million||$39 million|
|10||Harry Kane||Bayern Munich||$26 million||$10 million||$36 million|
Ronaldo's new Saudi employers haven't held back when it comes to using him as a celebrity pitchman. Wearing traditional Saudi garb, he made an appearance in a video broadcast by Al Nassr to promote both the impending Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou boxing event in Riyadh and the Kingdom's National Day. Over the last two months, he has also continued to promote his alliances, with advertisements for Clear, Herbalife, and Binance among others, showing up on his Instagram account.
The Messi Effect has boosted ticket demand and pushed prices skyrocketing for clubs throughout Major League Soccer. While the GOAT was out injured in October, the Chicago Fire brought a club record 62,124 people to Soldier Field and produced a projected $7 million to $10 million in income, more than all of their home games combined this season. Messi's debut in the United States was also documented in a recent Apple TV+ documentary titled "Messi Meets America."
Already in October, Neymar scored his first goal for his new club, Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, and had his second child, a baby girl. Away from the field, he is as busy as ever, with sponsors like Puma, Konami, and Red Bull. Neymar has established a collaboration with the Portuguese horse breeding facility Team Campline.
Mbappe's refusal to extend his contract with Paris-Saint-Germain ahead of the upcoming Ligue 1 season has placed him at odds with the club's ownership, with the club even excluding him from a preseason tour in Japan. The two sides appear to have patched things up, but rumours of Mbappé achieving his childhood ambition of playing for Real Madrid are spreading. The venerable Spanish club, which has previously pursued him, is contemplating another major effort next summer.
Benzema may have followed former Real Madrid colleague Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia, but when asked about the decision, the reigning Ballon d'Or winner provided a very personal answer. "It's where I want to be because I need to be in a Muslim country, where I feel people (are) already like me," Benzema said in June. "It will allow me to have a new life and I can't wait to live there."
Haaland broke the record for a Premier League player last season with 52 goals in all competitions. Real Madrid has taken notice of his turbulent success, leading Manchester City to resume contract negotiations with their 23-year-old star, even though he still has over four years remaining on his deal. Outside of the field, Haaland had a lucrative contract with Nike and appeared on the cover of the EA Sports FC 2024 video game, which underwent a name change following EA's breakup with FIFA.
Mo Salah was allegedly offered a transfer price of $190 million by Al Ittihad, making him almost the most expensive soccer signing in Saudi Arabia ever. Salah will remain at Anfield for the foreseeable future since Liverpool declined. The Egyptian celebrity, who also sports an Adidas trademark boot, was the focus of a recent Harvard Business School research about his most recent contract talks.
With 37 goals in his career, Mane has emerged as one of Senegal's most prolific soccer players in history, leading the national team. In his club career, he has enjoyed comparable success. In 2018–19, he and former colleague Salah shared the Premier League Golden Boot at Liverpool. Mane and New Balance inked a long-term deal two years ago.
De Bruyne signed an endorsement contract with McDonald's in March, which will see him promoted in his home country of Belgium. Fans who want to see him play on the field will have to wait. De Bruyne has been out of the Manchester City team since the start of the season as he recovers from hamstring surgery, which might keep him out for up to five months.
Kane's aim of becoming an NFL kicker will have to wait a few more years after signing a four-year contract with Bayern Munich this summer. Meanwhile, he is expanding his marketing portfolio. Kane agreed to a multi-year deal with Fanatics, making him the first British athlete to solely work with the company's autographs and memorabilia business.