Considering soccer is one of the world's most popular sports, it may not be surprising that the most elite players can garner hefty salaries and sponsorship deals. But who are the highest-paid soccer players in 2019? Find out.
The Highest Paid Soccer Players in 2019
1. Lionel Messi
2019 Salary: $127 million
Lional Messi is not just the highest-paid soccer player, but the highest-paid athlete in the world. Known as one of FC Barcelona's star players, the Argentinian player landed a new 4-year contract with the team in 2017. He currently makes $92 million a year in salary and bonuses. To supplement his salary, Messi boasts a lifelong sponsorship deal with Adidas (ADDYY) , as well as smaller deals with Gatorade, Pepsi (PEP - Get Report) , and Huawei. This earns an additional $35 million a year in endorsements. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Messi's total worth is $400 Million. His international renown as an athlete has even earned him a theme park named in his honor, projected to open in 2020 in China. Unfortunately, before heading out on his tour of U.S., he injured his lower leg during training. Medical tests indicated a Grade 1 calf strain, a relatively small injury. However, his return to the game will lean on how quickly he recovers from the injury.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
2019 Salary: $109 million
Despite growing up in a humble home in Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo is now the third-highest paid athlete in the world. He is often cited as one of the best soccer players of all time. In 2009, Ronaldo was transferred from the Manchester United team to Real Madrid, paying the most expensive transfer fee in history at the time. He continued playing with Real Madrid for the next 10 years. In July 2018, he signed a 4-year contract with the Italian team Juventus with a transfer fee of $117 million. This was the most an Italian team ever paid to acquire a player. Currently, Ronaldo is paid a salary of $65 million. In addition to his salary, Ronaldo boasts a lifetime contract with Nike. He also has deals with Herbalife (HLF - Get Report) , EA Sports (EA - Get Report) and American Tourister, bringing his income up another $44 million. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Ronaldo's total worth is $460 million.
3. Neymar Jr.
2019 Salary: $105 million
Originally born in Brazil, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior is now known as one of the world's best soccer players. He is best known for his expensive transfer, in which the Paris Saint-Germain team paid $263 million to the Barcelona team to acquire him. This remains the most expensive transfer fee in the sport's history. Neymar currently earns a salary of $75 million with the French team. In addition to his salary, the player has several endorsements that bolster his income. In 2011, he landed an 11-year contract with Nike (NKE - Get Report) . He also has deals with Red Bull, EA Sports, Mastercard (MA - Get Report) , and several other big-name companies - raking in an additional $30 million. Despite being a talented player, Neymar is not without controversy. In 2016, Neymar was convicted of tax fraud in Spain and forced to pay $1.2 million fine. He also got into an altercation with a spectator during a game on May 2019, resulting in a 3-game ban. In June 2019, he was accused of rape against a woman in Brazil, though the Brazilian courts dismissed the case in late July. Despite these missteps, Neymar has still become the third-highest paid soccer player in the world.
4. Paul Pogba
2019 Salary: $33 million
At age 26, Paul Pogba is known as one of the world's most promising players. He began his senior career playing for Manchester United for a year before being transferred to the Italian Juventus, who he stayed with for four years. His time with Juventus helped him establish a reputation as a promising young player, allowing him to return to Manchester United and garner a then-record breaking transfer fee of 105 million euros. This is still the highest an English team has ever paid to acquire a soccer player. He currently earns a salary of $29 million a year. Compared to some other top-paid soccer players, Pogba engages in fewer endorsement deals. His primary endorsement is with Adidas, bringing in $4 million additional earnings.
5. Andrés Iniesta
2019 Salary: $32.5 million
Andrés Iniesta is known as the most decorated Spanish soccer player in history, garnering numerous titles and trophies throughout his career. He has spent the majority of his time with the Barcelona team as a center midfielder. In 2018, Iniesta signed a contract to join the Japanese team Vissel Kobe. He currently makes $30 million a year in salary and bonuses. After moving on to the new team, the player ended his long-running sponsorship with Nike and signed on with Asics. He earns $2.5 million in sponsorships total. He also earns extra income from Bodega Iniesta, his winery in Albacete, Spain.
6. Alexis Sánchez
2019 Salary: $30.8 million
This Chilean soccer player has made his way around many different teams throughout his career, including Cobreloa, Udinese, and Barcelona. In 2018, Manchester United paid a 30 million euro transfer fee to acquire him. He boasts the highest transfer fee ever paid for a Chilean soccer player. Currently, Manchester United pays him $28.3 million in salary and bonuses. Additionally, he has $2.5 million in endorsements from Nike, Pepsi, and Huawei. Unfortunately, Sanchez has had numerous injuries in the last year, hurting his overall performance during this past season. Despite some rumors that Sanchez will be transferred into the team's reserves, team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer denies this claim.
7. Kylian Mbappé
2019 Salary: $30.6 million
Despite being only 20 years old, Kylian Mbappé is widely considered one of the best players in the sport. He is the youngest French player to score at a World Cup and only the second teenager ever to score at a World Cup Final. Mbappé originally signed on with Monaco in 2015, before being loaned to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. He has since signed a full contract with the team. His salary and bonuses total $26.6 million. To bolster his income, Mbappé holds long-term sponsorship deals with Nike and Marco Verratti. He also became a global ambassador to Hubolt in 2018. These deals rake in an extra $4 million.
8. Mesut Özil
2019 Salary: $30.2 million
Mesut Özil is a 30-year-old German soccer player who currently serves as an attacking midfielder on London's Arsenal team. Özil boasts the highest transfer fee of any German player, with Arsenal paying €50 million to acquire him. In early 2018, the player renewed his contract with Arsenal and boosted his pay, earning $23.7 million. Additionally, he earns $6.5 million in endorsements and sponsorships. His largest contract is with Adidas, who he has been with since 2013 and has appeared in many commercials for the company. He also boasts deals with Mercedes Benz and Beats by Dre.
2019 Salary: $29 million
Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior, widely known as "Oscar," is a Brazilian-born soccer player who has played on a multitude of teams since 2008. Today he serves as an attacking midfielder on the Shanghai SIPG team. He signed his contract with the Chinese team in 2017, more than quadrupling the pay he received on the Chelsea team he had been with since 2012. He now earns $27 million in salary and bonuses. His transfer fee from Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG broke Asian transfer records at £60 million. Oscar has one sponsorship with Adidas, which earns an additional $2 million each year.
10. Antoine Griezmann
2019 Salary: $27.7 million
This French-born soccer player currently plays as a forward for Barcelona's team after being transferred from Spain's Atlético de Madrid team in 2019. Barcelona paid a $133 million transfer fee for Antoine Griezmann, the fourth-highest transfer fee any team has paid for a player. He earns $23.2 million in salary and bonuses. He also earns an additional $4.5 million in endorsements. Griezmann currently boasts a sponsorship with Puma (PUMSY) and regularly appears on their television commercials. He has yet another sponsorship with Huawei. Griezmann also serves as a brand ambassador for Head and Shoulders Shampoo and Gillette.
11. Gareth Bale
2019 Salary: $20.6 million
Gareth Bale is a Welsh soccer player who currently plays as a winger for Real Madrid. Known for his exceptional agility and talent on the field, it's little wonder that Real Madrid has been eager to keep him on the team. In 2016, his contract was extended through 2022. Today, he makes $20.6 million a year in salary. To earn an additional $6.5 million in income, Bale also has Adidas as a sponsor. His robust Instagram following places him in an ideal position for marketing other brands. As of 2018, it was reported that he earned $185,000 per sponsored post on his social media account.
12. Mohamed Salah
2019 Salary: $25.1 million
Mohamed Salah is an Egyptian soccer player that has played as a forward for England's Liverpool team since 2017. Previously playing for the Italian Roma team, Salah was signed to Liverpool for a then-record breaking £36.9 million. He now earns $16.1 million in salary and bonuses. A devout Muslim, Salah is known for advocating for women's equality in the east and has been credited for reducing islamophobia. For this and other successes, Salah was named among the top 100 most influential people in the world in Time magazine's 2019 issue. His reputation has earned him many sponsors, including Adidas and EA Sports. He has also appeared in commercials for Vodafone Egypt, an Egyptian cell phone company. Salah earns $9 million from sponsorship.
13. Ángel Di María
2019 Salary: $23.7 million
Argentinian soccer player Ángel Di María currently plays as a winger on France's Paris Saint-Germain team. María has consistently set transfer fee records throughout his career. When he went from Spain's Real Madrid team to England's Manchester United, he set the British record at £59.7 million. His transfer to his current team garnered a transfer fee of £44 million. Currently, he makes $21.7 million a year in salary and bonuses. His sponsorship with Adidas also earns him an addition $2 million in endorsements.
14. Luis Suárez
2019 Salary: $23.6 million
Luis Suárez is an Uruguayan soccer player that currently serves as a striker for Spain's Barcelona team. He is known for earning one of the most expensive transfer fees in soccer history. Barcelona paid 82.3 million euros for him to join the team. He currently earns $20.1 million in salary and bonuses from the team. His income is supplemented by his current sponsorship with Puma and others, which earns him $3.5 million per year. He signed with Puma this year after abandoning his former footwear sponsor Adidas. While undeniably talented, Suárez is not without controversy. He has been known to bite other players and feign injuries during games.
15. Sergio Agüero
2019 Salary: $22.6 million
Argentine soccer player Sergio Agüero is known for his agility, passing ability, and intelligent aggressiveness on the field. He currently plays for England's Manchester City team as a striker, earning $17.1 million in salary and bonuses. His talent shows in his goal-scoring record. He currently holds the joint record for the most goals scored during a Premier League match, scoring five goals within the span of 23 minutes. Agüero has a long-running relationship with Puma and has appeared in a multitude of ads and other media for the company. He also has a partnership with Pepsi. Both sponsorships earn $5.5 million in endorsements.
16. Thiago Silva
2019 Salary: $22.5 million
Thiago Silva is a Brazilian soccer player currently playing a central defender and captain of the Paris Saint-Germain team. Paris Saint-Germain acquired him from Italy's Milan team for 42 million euros, making him one of the most expensive defenders in history. He has been with the team since 2012 and earns $21.5 million in salary and bonuses. As a player, he is highly valued for his consistency and ability to lead, and many publications have ranked him as one of the best defenders in the sport. Silva currently has a sponsorship with Nike. He earns an addition $1 million a year from endorsements.
17. James Rodriguez2019 Salary: $22.1 million
James Rodriguez is a Colombian soccer player who plays for Spain's Real Madrid team, though he was on loan to German's Bayern Munich from 2017 to 2019. He is paid $16.3 million in salary and bonuses. Despite his talents as both an attacking midfielder and winger, Rodriguez was not purchased by Bayern Munich after his contract ended this year. He currently has no takers for 2019-2020 season. However, he still has a close partnership with Adidas, as well as Marc Jacobs and Hublot. These sponsorships earn him $4.5 million in endorsements.
18. Sergio Ramos
2019 Salary: $21.9 million
Sergio Ramos is a Spanish soccer player who serves as both a center back and captain on Spain's Real Madrid team. Playing for the team since 2005, Ramos earns $19.9 million in salary and bonuses. Though he received an offer from a Chinese team, Ramos recently announced that he intends to complete his contract with Real Madrid, which lasts until June 2020. He is not only a highly capable player that is considered one of the sport's best defenders, but he has also set records for speed and agility on the field. Ramos' top sponsorship is with Nike, earning him an additional $2 million.
19. Graziano Pelle 2019 Salary: $21.7 million
Graziano Pelle is an Italian striker and center-forward for the Chinese team Shandong Luneng. After playing for England's Southampton team from 2014-2016, Shandong Luneng acquired Pelle for an estimated £12 million transfer fee. He currently earns $20.7 million in salary and bonuses. His mobility and height have both been cited as keys to his success. His primary sponsor, Nike, helps him earn an addition $1 million a year in endorsements.
20. Gerard Piqué
2019 Salary: $21.7 million
Gerard Piqué is a Spanish soccer player who has played for Spain's Barcelona team since 2008. He primarily plays as a center-back but is also known for his versatility and ability to excel in multiple roles on the field. He earns $17.7 million in salary and bonuses. Interestingly, the player is also partnered with the famed singer Shakira, with whom he has two children. In addition to his soccer career, Piqué serves as president to Kosmos Holding, a sports investment group that currently owns the Spanish team FC Andorra and has the majority share of another Spanish team Gimnàstic Manresa. His primary sponsor, Nike, helps him earn an additional $4 million a year in endorsements.
It's never too late - or too early - to plan and invest for the retirement you deserve. Get more information and a free trial subscription to TheStreet's Retirement Daily to learn more about saving for and living in retirement. Got questions about money, retirement and/or investments? Email Robert.Powell@TheStreet.com.