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Top 10 Highest-Paid Footballers in World (2024)

In recent years, the financial landscape of football has undergone a seismic shift, largely driven by the influx of money into the sport, particularly in emerging markets like Saudi Arabia. This has led to astronomical salaries for top players, often dwarfing those in other professions. Here’s a look at the ten highest-paid footballers in terms of basic salary, as of the latest data available:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Al-Nassr) – £173 million per year

Cristiano Ronaldo, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, made a groundbreaking move to Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia. His eye-watering salary of £173 million annually is reflective of his superstar status, making him one of the highest-earning athletes globally.

2. Neymar Jr (Al-Hilal) – £86 million per year

Neymar Jr., once heralded as a potential Ballon d’Or winner, joined Al-Hilal after his stint at Paris Saint-Germain. Despite not clinching the top individual accolade, his annual salary of £86 million demonstrates his immense marketability and skill on the field.

3. Karim Benzema (Al-Ittihad) – £85 million per year

Karim Benzema departed Real Madrid after a stellar career, moving to Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia. His £85 million yearly wage signifies the allure of lucrative contracts in emerging football markets.

4. Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain) – £62 million per year

Kylian Mbappé, one of the brightest young talents, remains at Paris Saint-Germain despite significant interest from other clubs. His annual salary of £62 million reflects his rising stature in the game.

5. Lionel Messi (Inter Miami) – £55 million per year

Lionel Messi shocked the football world by leaving Barcelona for PSG and now for Inter Miami. Despite being considered the greatest player in history by many, his salary of £55 million per year puts him below some of his peers in earnings.

6. Riyad Mahrez (Al Ahli) – £45 million per year

Riyad Mahrez, known for his heroics at Manchester City, moved to Al Ahli with a substantial £45 million annual salary, reflecting his value as a top winger.

7. Sadio Mané (Al-Nassr) – £35 million per year

Sadio Mané’s move to Al-Nassr came after one year with Bayern. His £35 million yearly wage showcases the financial power of clubs in Saudi Arabia.

8. Oscar (Shanghai Sipg) – £30 million per year

Oscar’s move from Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG has proven lucrative, with his £30 million yearly salary reflecting the financial appeal of the Chinese Super League.

9. Kalidou Koulibaly (Al-Hilal) – £30 million per year

Kalidou Koulibaly’s switch to Al-Hilal from Chelsea saw him become one of the highest-paid defenders, earning £30 million annually, illustrating the financial strength of clubs in Saudi Arabia.

10. N’Golo Kante (Al-Ittihad) – £21.5 million per year

Kante’s departure from Chelsea to Al-Ittihad raised eyebrows, with the midfielder now earning £21 million annually, highlighting the allure of Saudi football for experienced players.

These figures demonstrate the staggering amounts involved in modern football contracts, fueled by the global commercialization of the sport and the financial backing of wealthy owners and sponsors. While debates persist about the ethics and sustainability of such high salaries in football, players continue to capitalize on the opportunities presented, maximizing their earnings during their relatively short careers.

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