Soccer, just like all other main sports today, is a business. Tournaments earnings, betting, sponsor
ships, and high salaries for players made the most watched sport in the world take a turn from a entertainment first approach to a money first kind of deal. In order to make money, teams must win matches and the only way to win matches is having a team with high quality players. Since the 2000s the amount paid for a soccer player has increased enormously, in 2001 when Zinedin Zidane was transferred to Madrid, Spain to play for Real Madrid, the transaction was worth around 46 million euros; fifteen years latter Paul Pogba became the highest ever transfer when a deal for about 89 million euros was made between Juventus and Manchester United. After team pay for millions for the signing of a player, they must be prepared to let go of another fortune in yearly salaries, which has increased significantly as well; Many players also make a lot of money from publicity and personal sponsorships, the battle between sport’s giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are still leading the ranks regarding total team salary. Soccer is now the sport with the highest payroll in the world, with eight of the top ten highest payroll in sports in general being soccer teams. Here are the current five highest-paid soccer players in the world.
1- Cristiano Ronaldo/ Real Madrid, Spain
Salary and Bonus: 53 million dollars
Total earnings: 82 million dollars
Born in Portugal,Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the best player of the world, after winning the Golden Ball award from FIFA, he has four of them(second most ever). Ronaldo is often discussed as one of the best players to ever play the game,having won multiple titles including three Champions Leagues, justifying his astronomical salary with team and individual tittles over the years.
2- Lionel Messi/ Barcelona, Spain
Salary and bonus: 51 million
Total earnings: 77 million
Following Cristiano in spot number two is his biggest rival, Lionel Messi. Messi has been one of the best, if not the best player in the world since he stated his career in 2006. Winning five Golden Ball awards (most ever ) and numerous championships, 29 with Barcelona, including four Champions Leagues and eight Spanish Championships , Messi is definitely one of the best players ever to touch a soccer ball. Messi is yet to give Argentina, his home nation, a tittle of high importance such as a World Cup or even a Copa America.
3-Zlatan Ibrahimovic/ Manchester United, England
Salary and bonus: 30 million
Total earnings: 37 million
The Swedish power house Zlatan Ibrahimovic appears in spot number three. Having the bragging rights of winning a national championship in every team he played so far,in his career and constantly featuring in the top forwards in the world, his salary is still one of the highest in the world at the age of 35. Now facing perhaps the biggest challenge of his career, playing in the english league, he looks to maintain his numbers and finally retires as one of the best strikers ever to step on a soccer field.
4- Neymar/ Barcelona, Spain
Salary and bonus: 36 million
Total earnings: 20 million
The Brazilian little magician is number four in the world, at the age of 24 Neymar is one of the best players in the world, and alongside Messi in Barcelona, Neymar is winning championships and walking his path to become eventually the best soccer player in the game. Neymar’s influence of the field is noticeable too, he is the face of many products and appears constantly in commercials all around the world.
5- Gareth Bale/ Real Madrid, Spain
Salary and bonus: 24 million
Total earnings: 34 million
Another Real Madrid superstar, Gareth Bale from Wales was the most expensive transfer ever when he joined the Spain’s royal family team in 2013, 85 million euros were needed to complete the transaction. Bale has proven himself as one of the top players in the world by helping his squad to two champions leagues in three years,although many still question his high salary.
Soccer is definitely the top sport in the world regarding payroll and athlete income, the teams are treated as business and the return value to the owners is much bigger then the amount paid in the millionaire player contracts. Although the values are already huge, recent history constantly reminds us that the paycheck of the athletes will continue to increase and soccer’s popularity and impact in the world is bound to increase with it.