The 10 Highest Paid Soccer Players of 2018

beIN SPORTS USA

Brian M. Reiser


With great wealth comes great responsibility.

And that maxim applies to the soccer field as much as it does to the board room.

So when you are one of the highest paid soccer players of 2018, you better be bringing your all to every single game.

Luckily, these ten athletes, though not all in their prime, are fierce competitors that leave it all out on the field.

And they have the income to show for it.

From gargantuan base salaries to endorsement deals with the likes of Nike, Adidas, and more, these footballers are bringing home the soccer bacon - and then some.

So without further ado, here are your highest paid footballers in the world.

 

The Highest Paid Soccer Players - 2018 Edition

10. Kylian Mbappé
 

Team: Paris Saint-Germain
Country of Origin: France
Salary / Winnings: $20,000,000
Endorsements: $1,500,000
Total Earnings: $21,500,000
Top Sponsors: Nike

Ah, to be young and very, very rich! 

Kylian Mbappé is probably the most exciting young star in professional soccer. The 19-year-old forward for Ligue 1’s Paris Saint-Germain is recently coming off of a shoulder injury, but leads with 11 goals in seven starts for PSG in the Ligue 1 competition.

As my favorite singer Dave Matthews says on his latest record: maybe it’s time to “let the children lead the way.”

But this teenaged superstar is no child as he leads his club. After making his professional debut at the age of 16, Mbappé helped his first professional club, Monaco, win their first title in Ligue 1 in 17 years and reach a Champions League semi-final.

That’s a sweet start.

When he transferred to the French capital city’s team for, €180 million, the youthful Frenchman became soccer’s most expensive teenager and the second most expensive player in the world at that time. 

MBAPPE: I MUST WORK TO WIN BALLON D'OR

Though he’s only the 10th highest paid player in soccer now, Mbappé undoubtedly has one of the brightest futures in the game. While time is one thing we can never get back, right now time is very much on Mbappé’s side as he vies to be one of the most impactful players of the next decade. 

After receiving the Best Young Player Award for his World Cup performance in 2018 and then scooping the Kopa Trophy in his native Paris, I am hardly alone in the assessment that he is on his way to dominating the world stage for a long time to come.

 

9. Angel Di Maria
 

Team: Paris Saint-Germain
Country of Origin: Argentina
Salary / Winnings: $20,600,000
Endorsements: $2,000,000
Total Earnings: $22,600,000
Top Sponsors: Adidas

Angel Di Maria has had the chance to play for some of the finest soccer teams in the world.

Real Madrid. Manchester United. He even kicked the goal that won the gold for Argentina during the 2008 Olympics.

And with those clubs he’s enjoyed great success, at least from a financial viewpoint.

When Real Madrid won the LaLiga in 2012, Di Maria was an integral member of Jose Mourinho’s team. And he went on to help Los Blancos clinch la Decima two years later with an heroic extra-time showing against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon.

But it was in 2014, when Di Maria signed with Manchester United, that he set a new record. He signed with the Red Devils for a British record of £59.7 million. 

Things never clicked for the now 30-year-old Argentine at Old Trafford (Louis van Gaal being the manager at the time might have something to do with it) and only a year later he hopped across the English Channel to join his present team, Paris Saint-Germain. And only for a cool £44 million.

Now the 5’10” midfielder, who had two goals but no assists in this year’s Champions League competition through the end of November, has extended his contract with PSG even longer

 

The lovefest between Di Maria and Paris is mutual. While he remains in the top 10 highest salaried soccer players in the world, the team also greatly admires his willingness to remain loyal to his French teammates and club.

All this amid persistent whispers that Neymar or Edinson Cavani may bolt from the club sooner rather than later…


8. Sergio Aguero
 

Team: Manchester City
Country of Origin: Argentina
Salary / Winnings: $17,000,000
Endorsements: $6,500,000
Total Earnings: $23,500,000
Top Sponsors: Puma

The Manchester City star may not have been a serious contender for the 2018 Ballon d’Or, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t paid like one.

His $17 million dollar salary and endorsements - which include Puma - totaling $6.5 million make him the eighth highest paid soccer in the word.

Eight seems to be Aguero’s lucky number.

AGUERO REACHES MILESTONE AS CITY CRUSH SAINTS

The Manchester City striker is currently the eighth highest goal scorer in Premier League history. He also leads the goal scoring pack for the reigning champions. 

 

In the 2018 Premier League competition, Sergio Aguero owned eight goals and four assists in 55 shots through his first 13 games.

The Argentine native also happens to be the highest non-European scorer in the history of the competition.

Even if he’s not the player he once was, Aguero owns an impressive collection of statistics and the records to justify his very fat paycheck.


7. Luis Suarez
 

Team: FC Barcelona
Country of Origin: Uruguay
Salary / Winnings: $19,900,000
Endorsements: $7,000,000
Total Earnings: $26,900,000
Top Sponsors: Adidas, Pro Evolution Soccer, Gatorade

This prolific Uruguayan has been a source of effusive praise and significant controversy during his career. But the controversy hasn’t prevented him from being one of the sport’s top earners.

His nearly $20 million in salary plus $7 million in endorsements from the likes of companies like Adidas, Pro Evolution soccer, and Gatorade have landed Suarez at number seven on this list.

He’s always been a productive goalscorer, and while he had not produced goals so far this year in the Champions League through the end of November, he found the back of the net nine times and provided four assists in LaLiga play this year through that time.

As a member of the famous MSN attacking trio which included Messi and Neymar, you might think Suarez’s career would be overshadowed by the other two superstars.

But the significant trophy and awards hardware he has received is a testament to how much his soccer skills are truly appreciated in the sport. 

When he transferred to Barcelona in 2014 in a deal worth €82.3 million he became one of the most expensive stars in the entire game.

His 17 career trophies - which include five LaLiga titles and a Champions League winners medal - are certainly in part due to his status as a stellar marksman. And he became the first LaLiga player to top both the goals and assists charts.

Uruguay’s all-time leading goalscorer is undoubtedly a master soccer player, and I don’t say that with any biting sarcasm.


6. Oscar
 

Team: Shanghai SIPG
Country of Origin: Brazil
Salary / Winnings: $25,900,000
Endorsements: $1,500,000
Total Earnings: $27,400,000
Top Sponsors: Adidas

“Money talks” my very practical Mom used to say to me.

It certainly does.

And when money called, Oscar, the Brazilian attacking midfielder who had played with Chelsea for four years and change, listened.

Money talked, according to Oscar, because he certainly knows a thing or two about not having money, given the background of poverty he experienced growing up in Brazil.

Oscar doesn’t have to worry about poverty anymore. Nor does his family.

His transfer to the Chinese Super League earned him $27.4 million dollars. China “makes offers players can’t refuse” he has said.  But he didn’t have to go dumping severed horse heads in his enemies’ beds to get this offer.

He just had to play some awesome football.

He left Europe despite having offers from Atletico Madrid and Italy, including Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter.

When he made his decision to set the Asian transfer record of £60 million in December, 2016, he has said he was mostly thinking of taking care of his family first.

With soccer comes glory, but it’s also refreshing to hear talk about the nobility of caring for one’s family in this contemporary day and age, too.

Despite his decision, Oscar still thinks about returning to Europe to re-engage with the kind of creme de la creme level every top player craves. 

Will Europe see the very wealthy young man on the field again?

I have a good feeling about it…


5. Paul Pogba
 

Team: Manchester United
Country of Origin: France
Salary / Winnings: $25,000,000
Endorsements: $4,500,000
Total Earnings: $29,500,000
Top Sponsors: Adidas

The 25-year-old midfielder from France was one of the most promising young players in soccer. In 2012, he helped Juventus win back-to-back titles in Serie A.

Today he is the highest paid soccer player on an English Club, with Manchester United.

His earnings stem from his $25 million salary plus $4.5 million in endorsements which include a sweet, meaty ten-year deal with Adidas.

His contract with Manchester United guarantees a salary of at least $20 million per annum.

And his return to the Red Devils in 2016 did not come cheap. It set a world record for its transfer fee price tag of €105 million (£89.3 million).

 

But the deal paid immediate dividends: in his first season back with the club, Manchester won both the League Cup and the Europa League. 

The 2017-18 season saw Pogba make 25 starts, and score six times from 76 shots. He also made ten assists. In his three Champions League starts so far this season, he has racked up zero goals from five attempts, but does have an assist to his name.

There have been countless reports that the World Cup winner has had significant friction with his manager, Jose Mourinho

As a result, there have been rumors Mr. Pogba has been looking to up sticks again. Possible landing spots could include a blockbuster move to Barcelona, or possibly a transfer back to his old club, Juve.


4. Gareth Bale
 

Team: Real Madrid
Country of Origin: Wales
Salary / Winnings: $28,600,000
Endorsements: $6,000,000
Total Earnings: $34,600,000
Top Sponsors: Adidas, Gillette 

Gareth Bale, the Real Madrid winger, set a transfer fee record when he was sent from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in September of 2013.  Although the fee was initially undisclosed, the press had it rumored that it was upwards of 90 million Euros. 

When the real number was leaked in 2016, it was confirmed that Bale had set a then-record transfer fee of 100.8 million Euros.

The 29-year-old Welshman is known for both his tremendous speed and physicality in the game. And for their not insignificant amount of money paid to him, Bale has helped lead Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League titles from 2016 - 2018.  

Prior to the conclusion of this amazing run, Bale signed a contract extension that (in theory) keeps him in the Spanish capital through to June of 2022. This deal made “the fire breathing dragon,” as Ray Hudson likes to call him, one of the highest earning soccer players in the world.

$6 million worth of these earnings come from his endorsement deal with Adidas, which runs through to 2020. 

During the 2017-18 season, Bale started 20 games, scored 16 goals and made two assists. He also made seven Champions League appearances, scoring twice in the final as Los Merengues saw off Liverpool 3-1 in Kiev. 

And though Bale is going through his worst ever slump in LaLiga, I think he has plenty of great soccer left in him.  

I know Real Madrid certainly hopes so, too. 

3. Neymar
 

Team: Paris Saint-Germain
Country of Origin: Brazil
Salary / Winnings: $73,000,000
Endorsements: $17,000,000
Total Earnings: $90,000,000
Top Sponsors: Nike, Red Bull, McDonald’s, Gillette, Beats Electronics

In August, 2017 Neymar signed a five-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. 

This deal made Neymar very rich.

In fact, Neymar is officially the fifth highest paid athlete in the entire world at $90 million per year. 

The remarkable 26-year-old forward, known for his dribbling, finishing, and, let’s face it, play-acting, has been compared to fellow Brazil star Pele no less.

In fact, SportsPro cited Neymar as the fourth-most marketable athlete in the entire world two years in a row from 2012-13. 

 

Not only is he sponsored by Nike, part of a sum of endorsements that partially account for his $90 million in annual earnings, but he was also the first soccer play to have his own custom Air Jordan sneakers.

In 2016, ESPN named him the world’s fourth most famous athlete. The following year, Time listed Neymar as one of the 100 most influential people in the world

Before transferring to Paris Saint-Germain in a €222 million deal that made him the most expensive player ever, he was part of a formidable attacking trio at Barcelona that included stars Suarez and Messi. 

In 2015, he helped the Catalan club to a hat-trick of trophies, as they won LaLiga, the Copa del Rey, and the Champions League. That very same year, he came in third for the Ballon d’Or. (And no prizes for guessing the other two stars that accompanied him on the podium.)

Neymar also recently became the all-time top scoring Brazilian in Champions League history with his record setting 31 goals.


And despite coming off of a recent injury, the polemic number ten shows no sign of slowing down in terms of soccer success, money, fame, or notoriety.


2. Cristiano Ronaldo
 

Team: Juventus
Country of Origin: Portugal
Salary / Winnings: $61,000,000
Endorsements: $47,000,000
Total Earnings: $108,000,000
Top Sponsors: Nike, Herbalife, EA Sports, Clear, American Tourister

It’s still hard to get used to the fact Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the all-time soccer greats, no longer plays for Real Madrid. 

But after scoring a total of 311 goals in 292 appearances with the LaLiga giants, between the years 2009 and 2018, Ronaldo bolted for Serie A’s Juventus

The transfer will reportedly pay him a total of $140 million throughout the four year lifespan of the contract. The transfer fee cost 112 million euros ($131 million).

 

In addition to the Juventus forward’s monster salary, he is also the beneficiary of a lifetime Nike contract that’s worth over $1 billion dollars.

That’s, like, Dr. Evil ransom-request level money. 

In addition to his external endorsements, Ronaldo has gotten himself in the the merchandising game with his own CR7 branded line of products. The line includes everything from shoes (rather soccer related) to gyms (still rather soccer related) to fragrances (less soccer related, unless it’s used to cover up game sweat smell). 

Not only was Cristiano the world’s highest paid athlete in 2017, but he’s also the world’s most popular. Cristiano has 322 million social media followers - take that, Selena Gomez

Is Real Madrid hurting without Cristiano Ronaldo?

Yup, you could make a strong case to that. 


1. Lionel Messi
 

Team: FC Barcelona
Country of Origin: Argentina
Salary / Winnings: $84,000,000
Endorsements: $27,000,000
Total Earnings: $111,000,000
Top Sponsors: Adidas, Gatorade, Pepsi, Huawei Technologies. Mastercard, Lays, Ooredoo

The world’s second highest paid athlete in 2018 - behind only boxer Floyd Mayweather -  is also one of the greatest to have ever played the game.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s chief rival, a short-statured Argentine magician, has earned every dollar of the vast amounts of money he now gets paid.

His $27 million in endorsements this year come, in large part, from a very lucrative lifetime deal with Adidas.

He’s spent his entire football career playing for FC Barcelona - and acquiring a ton of their money.

His achievements in the game of soccer are almost too numerous to list, but we’ll name a few.

Messi has:

Tied the world record with five Ballon d’Or wins
Helped Barcelona with 33 trophies, including
9 LaLiga titles
4 UEFA Champions League titles
6 Copas del Rey


And set the records for:
Most goals scored in LaLiga (392)
Most LaLiga Assists (156)
And Most Goals Scored in El Clasico (26)

The guy’s even got his own theme park set to open in Nanjing China in 2020. That makes him as big as Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter.

Maybe bigger.

Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer has had himself a remarkable soccer career.

And if that doesn’t make him feel rich, I bet all that money he makes definitely does.

So there you have it - your highest paid soccer players of 2018.