Highest paid footballers in the world: Ronaldo 1st, Messi 5th as Saudi Arabia dominate

Jason Soutar
Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are among the highest-paid footballers in the world
Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are among the highest-paid footballers in the world

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe are among the highest-paid athletes in the world. You will not be surprised to read that. But where do they rank among their football peers?

Here are the top 10 highest earners in world football, only taking yearly salary into account, not endorsements and bonuses.

Who is the highest-earning male footballer in the world?

10) Harry Kane (£21m per year)
You might be shocked to learn that only two Europe-based players are on this list, with none coming from the Premier League.

Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane is 10th, taking home over £20million a year. If Jordan Henderson stuck it out at Al Ettifaq, he would be in this top 10 in place of his England skipper.


9) Kalidou Koulibaly (£30m per year)
As you can already tell, this ranking is not reflective of player ability. Kalidou Koulibaly is not the ninth-best player in world football. In fact, he does not come remotely close to that.

Saudi Arabia bailed out Chelsea by taking Koulibaly off their hands after a disappointing maiden year at Stamford Bridge.


8) Oscar (£30m per year)
The last man standing in China.

Former Chelsea midfielder chose money as a priority when he moved to Asia in 2017, with Shanghai Port paying around €60m for his services. We all thought it was a waste of a career and we still do. Oscar won’t care, mind. He has made a killing and still is.


7) Sadio Mane (£35m per year)
Out with the old and in with the new. The Saudi Pro League is the division taking the world by storm and Koulibaly’s Senegal team-mate Mane was one of the biggest names to move to the Middle East last summer.

The Liverpool icon is raking it in, sitting seventh on this list.


6) Riyad Mahrez (£45m per year)
Leicester City title hero Riyad Mahrez had done it all in England and rode off into the Saudi sunset having completed it, mate.


5) Lionel Messi (£55m per year)
You might have expected to see Lionel Messi higher, but four players do indeed have a superior salary.

He accepted a £55m-a-year contract to join MLS side Inter Miami and made an instant impact, leading them to Leagues Cup glory, which saw David Beckham’s side qualify for this season’s Champions Cup.

READ MORE: Lionel Messi proves gold doesn’t rust as racism is shown the Red Bull


4) Kylian Mbappe (£62m per year)
Kylian Mbappe‘s salary is sure to go up when he joins Real Madrid as a free agent this summer, but as things stand, the Paris Saint-Germain forward is the fourth-highest-paid footballer in the world, taking home £7m more than Messi per year, the peasant.


3) Karim Benzema (£85m per year)
Saudi Arabia picked up the Ballon d’Or holder and it does not get much bigger than that. To tempt the Real Madrid captain to the Middle East, they offered him the second-highest salary in football, until No. 2 joined.


2) Neymar (£86m per year)
Currently out injured, Neymar might not be anything close to the player he was before his knee exploded, but he will always be a player loved by many and hated by plenty of others.

He is the third-best player of this generation behind Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and is now raking it in after being made surplus to requirements at PSG.


1) Cristiano Ronaldo (£173m per year)
Ahead by a country mile and then some, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-earning footballer in the world.

The Real Madrid and Manchester United legend has been banging them in for Al Nassr, while entertaining those of us who refuse to watch the Saudi Pro League with his childish antics that have gone viral on social media.

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo no longer Portugal’s ‘best player’ as ‘heresy’ claim made after teammate slam