The World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Players 2022: Kylian Mbappé Claims No. 1 As Erling Haaland Debuts (2022)

While the top spot no longer belongs to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, the two legendary soccer stars are still expected to earn at least $100 million this season, contributing to a record $652 million haul for soccer’s ten top earners.

By Justin Birnbaum

When Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi each crossed $100 million in total annual earnings for the first time in 2018, both were in their 30s, at the respective heights of their careers. Kylian Mbappé didn’t wait nearly as long, achieving the feat at just 23 years old.

Forbes estimates the French superstar will earn $128 million for the 2022-23 season before taxes and agents’ fees, a record for our annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid soccer players that lands him the No. 1 spot. Despite rumors of a move to La Liga’s Real Madrid, which even spurred a plea from French President Emmanuel Macron to stay, Mbappé in May signed a three-year contract extension to remain in his homeland with Ligue 1 powerhouse Paris-Saint Germain.

Under the terms of his deal, which like most soccer contracts are not public, Mbappé will collect roughly $110 million between his salary and a share of his signing bonus for this season, according to industry experts. That is in addition to the estimated $18 million in annual endorsements Mbappé earns from a stable of partners that include Nike, Dior, Hublot, Oakley and Panini. His interests off the field don’t end there: Mbappé recently appeared on the cover of EA Sports’ FIFA video game for the third consecutive year; founded his own production company, Zebra Valley; and joined fantasy NFT platform Sorare as both an ambassador and an investor.

“He's a global icon already,” Sorare cofounder and CEO Nicolas Julia told Forbes in June. “He wants to aid the world and show, also, that huge things can be built out of France.”

Mbappé’s ascension places Messi and Ronaldo in unfamiliar territory. The pair had owned the top two spots on the earnings list each year since 2014, topping out at $127 million (Messi in 2019) and $125 million (Ronaldo in 2021). (Messi has gone even higher—$130 million in 2021 and 2022—on Forbes’ annual list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, which uses a different tracking window that looks at the past 12 months ending in May.) The stars now slip to second and third, respectively.

(Video) The World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Players 2022: Kylian Mbappé Claims No. 1 As Erling Haaland Debuts

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That’s not to say soccer’s two most decorated players have ceded any of their earning power, especially off the field, in the twilight of their careers. Messi, 35, is expected to rake in $110 million this season ($55 million off the field) while Ronaldo, 37, is slated to earn $100 million ($60 million off the field, more than any other player). Both signed lucrative deals with cryptocurrency companies over the past year, with Messi getting $20 million annually from Socios.com and Ronaldo partnering with Binance for an undisclosed sum.

(Video) The World’s Highest Paid Soccer Players 2022 Kylian Mbappé Claims No 1

In total, the ten highest-paid soccer players are expected to collect record pretax earnings of $652 million this season, up 11% from last year’s $585 million. The top three alone account for more than 50% of that figure. Salary and bonus still represent the bulk of the total, improving 7% to $444 million. While Covid-19 losses previously put a damper on player movement, a recovery seems to be in full effect. According to a report from Deloitte, Premier League clubs spent a record $2.2 billion on transfers this summer, 67% higher than a year ago.

“If you look at the spending in the summer transfer window in the Premier League, it just tells you a story that soccer, as the most popular sport in the world, will always be interesting for investors,” says Kenneth Cortsen, a sports economist at University College of Northern Denmark. “The attractiveness of sports products are dependent on investments in talent, and there is a scarcity when it comes to top talent that can play in top leagues, and especially play a positive and transformative role in lifting the performance of top teams.”

Roughly two months into the season, arguably no player has been as transformative as Erling Haaland. The 22-year-old has proved to be worth every penny of the $63 million transfer fee Manchester City paid, scoring 19 goals in just 11 Premier League and Champions League games. The Norwegian comes in at No. 6 on this year’s list and is expected to pull in $35 million in salary and bonus this season, plus $4 million in endorsements.

Haaland, who makes his first top appearance in the earnings top ten, joins Mbappé as the only players under age 30 to make this year’s list, ushering in a youth movement that is set to dominate global soccer for years to come.

“There’s always another sports star around the corner, and when some heroes fade, new heroes arise,” Cortsen says, adding, “There’s no doubt that the names Mbappé, especially now with Haaland will be on the minds of sports fans and consumers.”

#1. $128 mil

Kylian Mbappé

ON-FIELD: $110 mil • OFF-FIELD: $18 mil | AGE: 23

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: 72.7 mil | TEAM: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN | NATIONALITY: FRANCE

After collecting three of the last four Ligue 1 Player of the Year Awards, Mbappé has cemented himself as the face of French soccer. He’s flexed that influence of late. Mbappé refused to participate in a photoshoot and other sponsor activities in protest of the French national team’s image rights agreement with its players; the French Football Federation has announced it will review the matter.

(Video) Who is the highest-paid football 2022 ?

#2. $120 mil

Lionel Messi

ON-FIELD: $65 mil • OFF-FIELD: $55 mil | AGE: 35

IG FOLLOWERS: 364 mil | TEAM: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN | NATIONALITY: ARGENTINA

Messi already earns a king’s ransom off the pitch, but industry experts suggest that figure could grow by as much as 20% if he leads Argentina to a World Cup victory in November. (The nation is tied for the third-best odds right now.) Either way, the 35-year-old star has publicly said Qatar 2022 will “surely” be his final World Cup. He’s also rumored to be considering a return to FC Barcelona, where he spent the first 17 years of his senior career, in 2023.

#3. $100 mil

Cristiano Ronaldo

ON-FIELD: $40 mil • OFF-FIELD: $60 mil | AGE: 37

IG FOLLOWERS: 486 mil | TEAM: MANCHESTER UNITED | NATIONALITY: PORTUGAL

Despite a sharp decrease in playing time, Ronaldo is the world’s highest-earning soccer player off the pitch thanks to partners like Nike, Herbalife and Livescore. Reports suggest Ronaldo could be hunting for a new home during the January transfer window, giving him a chance to return to Champions League play (Manchester United didn’t qualify for 2022-23). He also boasts an astonishing 486 million followers on Instagram.

#4. $87 mil

Neymar Jr.

ON-FIELD: $55 mil • OFF-FIELD: $32 mil | AGE: 30

IG FOLLOWERS: 179 mil | TEAM: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN | NATIONALITY: BRAZIL

Neymar made history in 2017 with a record $263 million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. In May 2021, he re-upped through 2025, and he helped convince Messi to come aboard later that year. Neymar continues to excel as a pitchman, adding Ooredoo Group as a sponsor in advance of the World Cup.

#5. $53 mil

Mohamed Salah

ON-FIELD: $35 mil • OFF-FIELD: $18 mil | AGE: 30

IG FOLLOWERS: 53 mil | TEAM: LIVERPOOL | NATIONALITY: EGYPT

After a stellar campaign that nearly delivered Liverpool the Premier League title on the last day of the season, Salah was named England’s Men’s Footballer of the Year and Playmaker of the Season, and also received the league’s Golden Boot Award. In July, he signed a three-year extension to stay with Liverpool through 2025, and he remains one of Adidas’ biggest global stars.

#6. $39 mil

Erling Haaland

ON-FIELD: $35 mil • OFF-FIELD: $4 mil | AGE: 22

IG FOLLOWERS: 19.3 mil | TEAM: MANCHESTER CITY | NATIONALITY: NORWAY

Forbes estimates Haaland earns $4 million in endorsements annually from sponsors like Hyperice, Samsung and Viaplay, but that number is poised to skyrocket. Reports suggest Haaland’s next shoe deal could be worth as much as $18 million annually. His previous agreement with Nike expired this year.

#7. $35 mil

Robert Lewandowski

ON-FIELD: $27 mil • OFF-FIELD: $8 mil | AGE: 34

IG FOLLOWERS: 30.2 mil | TEAM: BARCELONA | NATIONALITY: POLAND

Lewandowski has been quick to justify the roughly $45 million transfer fee FC Barcelona paid in 2022 to acquire him from Bayern Munich, with 12 goals in ten matches played. The Polish national is endorsed by Nike and has his own “RL9” clothing line. This year, he ended a long-term arrangement with Huawei based on reports that the company supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

(Video) Highest Paid Football Players in the World 2022: Who's on top?

#8. $31 mil

Eden Hazard

ON-FIELD: $27 mil • OFF-FIELD: $4 mil | AGE: 31

IG FOLLOWERS: 27.1 mil | TEAM: REAL MADRID | NATIONALITY: BELGIUM

Hazard’s disappointing tenure with Real Madrid—six goals in 72 La Liga and Champions League matches spread over four seasons—has fueled constant rumors of a return to Chelsea. The 31-year-old previously appeared on the cover of EA Sports’ FIFA 20 video game.

#9. 30 mil

Andrés Iniesta

ON-FIELD: $25 mil • OFF-FIELD: $5 mil | AGE: 38

IG FOLLOWERS: 40.3 mil | TEAM: VISSEL KOBE | NATIONALITY: SPAIN

The 38-year-old launched his own sportswear brand in September. Called Capitten, it debuted with a limited-edition launch of a signature cleat and is aimed toward the Japanese market. Iniesta will also appear in an upcoming documentary about the FIFA World Cup.

#10. $29 mil

Kevin De Bruyne

ON-FIELD: $25 mil • OFF-FIELD: $4 mil | AGE: 31

IG FOLLOWERS: 19.1 mil | TEAM: MANCHESTER CITY | NATIONALITY: BELGIUM

Despite signing with Roc Nation in 2019, De Bruyne and his father led negotiations that yielded his latest contract with Manchester City, employing the help of data firm Analytics FC with the process. He has 11 brand deals that include Nike, Wow Hydrate, Credit Karma and Therabody.

METHODOLOGY

The Forbes ranking of the world’s highest-paid soccer players represents the combined total of on-field earnings for the 2022-23 season, including base salaries and bonuses, and off-field estimates that reflect annual cash from endorsements, licensing, appearances and memorabilia, as well as businesses operated by the players. The figures are derived through publicly available databases, like Capology.com, and conversations with industry insiders, including Tancredi Palmeri. All figures are converted to U.S. dollars using the current exchange rate. Forbes does not include investment income such as interest payments or dividends but does account for payouts from equity stakes athletes have sold. Forbes does not deduct taxes or agents’ fees. Transfer fees are excluded.

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FAQs

Who is the highest paid Premier League player 2022? ›

According to the latest findings, the Premier League player salaries are as of October 2022 since the 2020/21 season.
  1. Christiano Ronaldo - £26,800,000.
  2. Kevin de Bruyne - £20,800,000. ...
  3. David de Gea - £19,500,000. ...
  4. Jadon Sancho - £18,200,000. ...
  5. Raphael Varane - £17,680,000. ...
  6. Jack Grealish - £15,600,000. ...
  7. Raheem Sterling - £16,900,000. ...
5 days ago

How much money does Messi make? ›

Who is the highest-paid player in the world right now 2022? ›

The World's Highest-Paid Soccer Players 2022: Kylian Mbappé Claims No. 1 As Erling Haaland Debuts.

Who is richest football player in the world? ›

Faiq Bolkiah

Who is the best player in the world? ›

#1. Lionel Messi (PSG & Argentina) (Total Football Goals: 769) The Argentine great turned 35 this June but even at his age, the veteran hasn't lost his ability to weave magic on the pitch. In his first season away from his childhood club Barcelona, Messi finished with 11 goals and 15 assists in 34 appearances overall.

Who is the richest player in the world? ›

Faiq Bolkiah

Who is No 1 Messi or Ronaldo? ›

In terms of numbers alone, the winner here is Ronaldo, with a total of 57 hat tricks. As for Messi, he has scored 55 hat tricks.

Who is the highest paid player in PSG 2022? ›

But Mbappe has now edged ahead of his glamorous teammates in the PSG pay league, according to capology.com - a football salaries and finances website - with a weekly wage of €1,748,269, or a staggering €90,910,000 a year. That puts him ahead of Messi and Neymar, with the trio way ahead of fourth-placed Sergio Ramos.

Who is paid more between Messi and Mbappe? ›

France and Paris Saint-Germain superstar striker Kylian Mbappe has overtaken Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to become the highest-paid football player in the world, according to Forbes. The magazine stated that Mbappe will earn a record $128 million in annual earnings for the 2022-23 season.

Who is the most beautiful player in football? ›

Tom Brady is regarded as the hottest NFL player globally. The most prominent features in his body are his 'lazy eyes' and his firm jawline.

Who is the king of world football? ›

Pele, the legendary Brazilian footballer, is considered the football god of all time. No player has won more world cups (3) than him.

Who is the richest man in Africa? ›

Aliko Dangote

Who is highest paid player in Premier League now? ›

Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd, £515k)

Ronaldo has spent the entire summer pleading to leave United, and we suspect Ten Hag wouldn't be displeased if Ronaldo did so, but the 37-year-old remains the Premier League's highest-paid player on £515k per week.

Who is the richest player in Chelsea 2022? ›

According to a report from spotrac.com Romelu Lukaku does indeed lead the way at Chelsea, with a weekly wage of £325,000, or £16.9m a year.

Who is the richest player in Premier League? ›

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo remains the highest paid player in the English top-flight while Haaland's teammate Kevin De Bruyne is on £400,000-a-week. Red Devils goalkeeper David De Gea is also on £375,000-a-week while Jadon Sancho and Mohamed Salah are on £350,000 per week.

Who is the best player in EPL 2022 2023? ›

  • Mohamed Salah – Liverpool.
  • Kevin de Bruyne – Manchester City.
  • Virgil Van Dijk – Liverpool.
  • Harry Kane – Tottenham.
  • Son Hueng-min – Tottenham.
  • Erling Braut Haaland – Manchester City.
  • Joao Cancelo – Manchester City.
  • Fabinho – Liverpool.
4 Aug 2022

Who is the highest paid defender in Premier League? ›

Reece James signs new Chelsea contract, becomes highest-paid defender in club's history. England International, Reece James has signed a new contract at Chelsea that will run till 2028.

Who is the best player in the world? ›

#1. Lionel Messi (PSG & Argentina) (Total Football Goals: 769) The Argentine great turned 35 this June but even at his age, the veteran hasn't lost his ability to weave magic on the pitch. In his first season away from his childhood club Barcelona, Messi finished with 11 goals and 15 assists in 34 appearances overall.

Who is the highest paid player in PSG 2022? ›

But Mbappe has now edged ahead of his glamorous teammates in the PSG pay league, according to capology.com - a football salaries and finances website - with a weekly wage of €1,748,269, or a staggering €90,910,000 a year. That puts him ahead of Messi and Neymar, with the trio way ahead of fourth-placed Sergio Ramos.

Who is the richest player in Chelsea now? ›

Who is the highest paid star at Chelsea? Raheem Sterling now leads the way at Chelsea, with a weekly wage of £325,000, or £16.9m a year, according to capology.com. That puts him ahead of fellow new recruit Koulibaly and World Cup winner N'Golo Kante.

Who is the highest goal scorer in Chelsea? ›

Frank Lampard is Chelsea's record goalscorer, scoring 211 goals in total.

Who is D highest paid player in Chelsea? ›

The highest earner of 2021/22 was Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku.

Who is the current best midfielder in the world? ›

1. Kevin De Bruyne. Kevin De Bruyne tops our list of best midfielders in the world at the moment. The Belgium and Manchester City star is considered the best attacking midfielder in world football.

Who is highest paid coach in the world? ›

1. DIEGO SIMEONE: $49.28 MILLION (£46.7 MILLION) PER YEAR: Diego Pablo Simeone González, better known as Diego Simeone, was born on April 28, 1970, and will be the world's richest coach in 2022. El Cholo is his nickname. He is an Argentine professional football manager as well as a former footballer.

Who is the best player in English Premier League? ›

1. Erling Haaland. Arguably the best striker and one of the best players in the English Premier League, Erling Haaland has defied the odds, becoming one of the most consistent forwards.

Who won the Golden Boot 2022? ›

Manchester City striker Haaland tops the European golden boot standings with 17 goals in the Premier League, which is the highest total in all of Europe's five major divisions.

Who is goat of football history? ›

Football's GOAT is a matter of continuous debate within the community, but the consensus in recent years has narrowed the question down to one of two players: Ronaldo or Messi.

Who is the best midfielder in Premier League 2022? ›

Best Premier League Midfielders to Watch in the 2022/23 Season
  • Fabinho (Liverpool) Liverpool came close to winning it all last season and will surely try to fight for all the trophies again in this 2022/23. ...
  • Mason Mount (Chelsea) ...
  • Declan Rice (West Ham United) ...
  • Phil Foden (Manchester City) ...
  • Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
3 Aug 2022

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