Sport is a global business, and business is booming. It stands to reason that the players, the faces of the aforementioned booming business, are reaping the rewards. As 2016 comes to a close, here’s a look at the 10 highest-paid football players across the globe.
The data comes via Forbes.com, with the caveat being that figures include salaries, prize money and bonuses paid between June 1, 2015, and June 1, 2016. A few salaries or bonuses here or there could have given this chart a slightly different look (Eden Hazard just missed the cut), but there’s no breaking up the top of the list. You’ll never guess which two players are far and away at the top.
Tied-10. Angel Di Maria & James Rodriguez — US$22.1 million
PSG’s Angel Di Maria and Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez came in tied on the list with a cool US$22.1M apiece. Di Maria boasted a better wage from his club (US$20.6M vs US$15.1M), but Rodriguez had the advantage in endorsement revenue (US$7M vs. US$1.5M).
9. Bastian Schweinsteiger — US$22.4 million
Schweini banked US$19.4M in salary/winnings and scored US$3M in endorsements, putting him No. 81 in the world among all athletes. His biggest sponsors include Beats by Dre and Adidas.
8. Luis Suarez — US$23.8 million
— FC Barcelona Fl (@FCBarcelonaFl) December 16, 2016
Suarez collected US$17.8M in salary and winnings while also netting US$6M in endorsements from the likes of adidas and Pepsico.
7. Sergio Aguero — US$24.3 million
The Man City ace has been a boon for the Sky Blues, who paid the Argentine US$16.8 million in salary/winnings. The 28-year-old also earns cash from Puma, EA Sports, Pepsico and others.
Wayne Rooney — US$26.1 million
— SPORF (@Sporf) December 17, 2016
Rooney just barely cracks the global top 50, coming in at No. 49 among all athletes. The Man United striker might be in a rut, but he still made lots of money.
5. Gareth Bale — US$35.9 million
— TheXboxHub (@TheXboxHub) March 14, 2016
Bale, the next football player on the list, vaults all the way up to No. 25 on the global list. Bale earned US$24.9M with Real Madrid and an additional US$11 million in endorsements. Konami, Sony and adidas are among the companies he champions.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic — US$37.4 million
Age doesn’t apply to the 35-year-old Swede. He’s still scoring for United, and earned just over US$30M in salary/winnings. His major sponsorships include Volvo and Nike. No word on if he demands the money be printed with his likeness on it.
3. Neymar — US$37.5 million
At just 24 years old, Neymar is already among the highest-paid athletes in the world. He scooped US$14.5M from Barcelona and a whopping US$23M in endorsements. Given his profile, marketability and skill level, those numbers will likely only increase.
2. Lionel Messi — US$81.4 million
Now, we get to the big fish. Messi is not only No.2 among football players, but athletes overall. The Barcelona star made US$53.4 in salary/winnings and US$28 in endorsements. His Barcelona contract is loaded with incentives, which he seems to have no problem hitting.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo — US$88 million
— TAG Heuer (@TAGHeuer) December 12, 2016
Ronaldo sits at the top with a colossal US$56M in salary/winnings to go along with US$32 million in endorsements. Beyond launching his own underwear line and several other Ronaldo-inspired wares, CR7 is a spokesperson for Tag Heuer and Nike. As with Messi and Neymar, Ronaldo’s annual income can’t help but increase in the new year.