Sports are a global business, and business is booming. It stands to reason that players, the most integral employees of the aforementioned booming business, are reaping the rewards. As 2016 comes to a close, here’s a look at the 10 highest-paid soccer players across the globe.
The data comes via Forbes.com, with the caveat being that figures included tally up salaries, prize money and bonuses paid between June 1, 2015, and June 1, 2016. A few paychecks or bonuses here or there for could have given this look 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.
T-10. Angel Di Maria & James Rodriguez — $22.1 million
9. Bastian Schweinsteiger — $22.4 million
Schweini banked $19.4M in salary/winnings and scored $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 — $23.8 million
Suarez collected 17.8M in salary and winnings while also scoring $6M in endorsements from the likes of adidas and Pepsico
7. Sergio Aguero — $24.3 million
The Man City ace has been a boon for the Sky Blues, who paid the Argentine $16.8 million in salary/winnings. The 28-year-old also earns a paycheck from Puma, EA Sports, Pepsico and others.
6. Wayne Rooney — $26.1 million
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 bank.
5. Gareth Bale — $35.9 million
Bale, the next soccer player on the list, vaults all the way up to No. 25 on the global list. Bale earned $24.9M with Real Madrid and an additional $11 million in endorsements. Konami, Sony and adidas are among the companies he champions.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic — $37.4 million
Age doesn’t apply to the 35-year-old Swede. He’s still scoring for United, and earned just over $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 — $37.5 million
At just 24 years old, Neymar is already among the highest-paid athletes in the world. He scooped $14.5M from Barcelona and a whopping $23M in endorsements. Given his profile, marketability and skill level, those numbers will likely only increase
2. Lionel Messi — $81.4 million
Now, we get to the big fish. Messi is not only No. 2 among soccer players, but athletes overall. The Barcelona star made $53.4 in salary/winnings and $28 in endorsements. His Barcelona contract is loaded with incentives, which he seems to have no problem hitting.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo — $88 million
Ronaldo sits at the top with a colossal $56M in salary/winnings to go along with $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.