World’s highest paid football players in 2020

FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi topped the list of the world’s highest-paid Soccer players in 2020, taking home a cool $126 million in earnings, according to Christina Settimi of Forbes.

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona

Barcelona legend Lionel Messi
Barcelona legend Lionel Messi

Total Earnings: $126 million

Salary: $92 million | Endorsements: $34 million

It took FC Barcelona 105 years to win 64 trophies before Messi joined in 2005. In the past 16 years, he’s led the team to 34 trophy wins, a performance that has landed his name among the sport’s greats—and earned him $1 billion in pretax career earnings. This year, he dragged the soccer world through weeks of cliffhanger drama as he fought with the club about playing out the final year of his contract. He stayed, and stands to collect $92 million for doing so, but Messi Watch 2021 is in full force, with all eyes peeled for clues as to where he will turn up next.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus
Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

Total Earnings: $117 million

Salary: $70 million | Endorsements: $47 million

Ronaldo is the most popular athlete on the planet with 457 million social media followers. He’s also the most engaged, per Hookit, regularly displaying his 0% body fat and poster-boy good looks for his CR7 lifestyle branded wear, health and wellness sponsors like Herbalife and Clear shampoo, and his lifetime sponsor Nike. In July, he posted a video of himself narrating an encouraging letter he wrote to 10-year-old Brazilian soccer prodigy Julia Rosado and her tearful delight as she received it, along with the Swoosh’s latest Flight Ball. He is only the second man in history, after Iran’s Ali Daei, to have scored more than 100 international goals, recently passing the mark in Portugal’s UEFA Nations League match against Sweden.

3. Neymar Jr., Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar Jr
Neymar Jr

Total Earnings: $96 million

Salary: $78 million | Endorsements: $18 million

The 28-year-old Brazilian striker, one of the most polarizing players in the game for his antics on and off the pitch, quadrupled his pay and criticism when he traded playing alongside Messi in Barcelona for suiting up with Paris Saint-Germain in August 2017. Between his record $263 million transfer fee and his average $70 million salary, PSG is spending more than $600 million to keep him in the French capital. This summer, Nike ended its relationship with Neymar, allowing him to sign with Puma. He opened Ligue 1’s 2020-21 season with a red card for taking a swipe at the back of Marseille’s Alvaro Gonzalez head, claiming it was in response to racial abuse.

4. Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe

Total Earnings: $42 million

Salary: $28 million | Endorsements: $14 million

For the second year in a row, Mbappe was named the winner of the Ligue 1 Golden Boot, which honors the player with the most goals for the league. His club also repeated as league champion, with last season’s title declared on a points-per-match basis after play was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic. He was forced to spend Ligue 1’s 2020-21 season opener in quarantine after he tested positive for Covid-19 but has remained asymptomatic, according to his lawyer.

5. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah

Total Earnings: $37 million

Salary: $24 million | Endorsements: $13 million

Salah has reached the 20-goal mark across all competitions in each of the last three seasons at Liverpool, helping to propel the club to its first Premier League title in 30 years in 2019-20. He has the highest win rate of any league player to have appeared in more than 100 matches. In Liverpool’s 2020-21 opening match, he scored a hat trick. In February, the 28-year-old teamed up with long-term sponsor Vodafone to become an ambassador for a UN program that brings digital learning tools to refugees in his native Egypt.

6. Paul Pogba, Manchester United

Total Earnings: $34 million

Salary: $28 million | Endorsements: $6 million

Pogba’s current deal expires next summer, although Manchester United has the option to extend it one more year. The French playmaker scared fans in early August by posting on social media that he had signed for Verdansk FC. It turned out to be a fictional club and a stunt by sponsor Activision to promote Call of Duty: Warzone, Season 5. The 27-year-old has also appeared with Messi and Salah in Pepsi’s “Play Never Stops” campaign.

7. Antoine Griezmann, Barcelona

Total Earnings: $33 million

Salary: $28 million | Endorsements: $5 million

Since the Frenchman’s disappointing debut at Barcelona this past season, rumors have swirled that the club is negotiating to swap him to PSG in return for Neymar, at the request of Messi. Griezmann is an avid Brooklyn Nets fan, often jetting over to the U.S. for games and frequently posting his support on social media. Nets star Kevin Durant even helped Barça unveil Griezmann’s uniform switch from No. 17 to No. 7 ahead of the 2020-21 season. In January, he launched Grizi Esports to compete in FIFA, Fortnite, CS:Go and Rainbow Six.

8. Gareth Bale, Real Madrid

Total Earnings: $29 million

Salary: $23 million | Endorsements: $6 million

Bale continues to butt heads with manager Zinedine Zidane and is the most expensive bench warmer in sports right now. He played in just two of Real Madrid’s last 11 La Liga matches and then was left off the club’s 24-man Champions League squad in early August. The Welshman is an avid golfer and has pitched TaylorMade products and events on social media.

9. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich

Total Earnings: $28 million

Salary: $24 million | Endorsements: $4 million

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, France Football, the organizer of the Ballon d’Or, decided to cancel the 2020 award for the world’s best player. In doing so it is robbing Lewandowski, who was the clear favorite to win. Across all competitions, the Polish striker directly contributed to 65 goals for Bayern Munich last season—55 goals and ten assists in 47 matches. In the Champions League, he scored in every match up until the final against PSG, which his team won on a lone goal by teammate Kingsley Coman. Off the pitch, he is one of the most popular athletes on TikTok, with 2.4 million followers.

10. David De Gea, Manchester United

Total Earnings: $27 million

Salary: $24 million | Endorsements: $3 million

De Gea’s $24 million salary makes him the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world. In July, he made his 400th appearance in goal in his ninth year with Man United and broke the club record for the most shutouts. He’s been married to his wife, popular Spanish singer and actress Edune, since 2010 and frequently promotes her work on his social media accounts.