Soccer is the world’s sport, and its star players are some of the richest athletes. David Beckham, for example, is still one of the sport’s wealthiest and most recognizable faces — even though he retired in 2013.
Soccer has yet to reach the same level of fandom in the U.S. that it enjoys elsewhere, which might explain why American players rarely receive huge paydays. Instead, soccer’s highest-paid athletes compete on European soil for some of the top clubs in the world.
The FIFA World Cup is underway as games began on June 14, so if you want to keep up with which players are succeeding on and off the field, click through to read about how the best soccer players have made their fortunes.
James Rodríguez Net Worth: $30M
James Rodríguez might be more valuable off the field than on. The Colombian midfielder mostly sat on the bench during his time with Real Madrid, and after a three-year stint filled with mixed results, the club opted to loan him to Bayern Munich during the summer of 2017. But despite his middling play, Rodríguez has landed endorsement deals with Adidas, Calvin Klein, Huawei and Libertex.
Rodríguez reportedly earned $15 million per year with Real Madrid, which helped him land the No. 91 spot on Forbes’ 2017 list of highest-paid athletes.
Luis Suárez Net Worth: $40M
In 2017, Barcelona striker Luis Suárez was listed as No. 71 on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes. He earned $23.3 million that year and was awarded the coveted European Golden Shoe for the 2015-16 season in recognition of his 40 goals for La Liga.
Aside from his salary and bonuses, Suárez also earned $6 million in endorsement deals. He has a boot deal with Adidas, is the face of clothing company My Brand and signed on with sunglasses maker Hawker to design and model a signature line.
Sergio Agüero Net Worth: $50M
Sergio Agüero — affectionately known as Kun — is Manchester City’s all-time leading goalscorer. His high-scoring performances helped land him a $22.6 million payday with the football club in 2017. Approximately $14.6 million of that haul came from salary and bonuses.
According to Forbes, in 2011, Agüero became the highest-paid soccer player on Puma’s roster of celebrity spokespeople. In total, his endorsement deals, which also include contracts with Pepsi and Nissan, earned him a cool $8 million in 2017.
Eden Hazard Net Worth: $100M
Belgian national Eden Hazard’s contract with Chelsea pays him an annual salary of roughly $16 million through 2020. When his bonuses are included in the equation, he earns $17 million a year in salary.
In the 2016-17 season, Hazard added a Premier League championship to his massive trophy collection. The highly marketable star forward earns $5 million a year off the field thanks to endorsements with Nike, Topps and Lotus Bakeries.
Gareth Bale Net Worth: $110M
With a net worth of $110 million, Welsh superstar Gareth Bale plays forward for Real Madrid and the Wales national team. Bale earns $23 million annually from salary, plus more from his sponsorship deals with Adidas, Foot Locker and Nissan. In 2017, he made an impressive $34 million, making him the 24th-highest-paid athlete of 2017, according to Forbes.
Bale has received numerous accolades throughout his career, including two PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards (2011 and 2013) and the FWA Footballer of the Year award in 2013.
Neymar Net Worth: $140M
The athlete Forbes called “more marketable than (Cristiano) Ronaldo,” Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior — best known as Neymar Jr. or simply Neymar — is the only man in the world of soccer who earns more off the field than he does on it. With his 2017 earnings, he was roughly pulling in $37 million a year, $22 million of which came from corporate endorsements that include Nike, Gillette, Panasonic and Beats by Dre. Renowned for his savvy online presence, Neymar’s official website landed the star forward a Webby award in 2016.
Now with Paris Saint-Germain, he reportedly receives a gross annual salary of $57.5 million, according to a study by France Football, which will likely boost his net worth by the end of 2018.
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Wayne Rooney: $145M
Wayne Rooney is the all-time leading scorer for Manchester United and the English national team, and he’s been one of the top 10 highest-earning soccer players every year for the last decade, according to Forbes. In 2017, he made $17.6 million in salary and winnings, and brought in an additional $6 million in endorsements, earning him the No. 70 spot on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes for the year.
Rooney is rumored to be joining the MLS club D.C. United, pending negotiations, The Washington Post reported.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Net Worth: $190M
Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic now plays stateside in the MLS with the L.A. Galaxy. Before joining the team in March 2018, Ibrahimovic played for Manchester United, and reportedly took a 95 percent pay cut to play in Los Angeles, according to Sports Illustrated. As of 2017, Ibrahimovic was making $32 million a year, with $27 million from salary and winnings and an additional $5 million from endorsements. His high earnings landed him the No. 30 spot on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes of 2017.
He likely won’t make the Forbes list in 2018, as his earnings have reportedly been cut to $1.4 million due to MLS wage limits, according to Sports Illustrated.
Lionel Messi Net Worth: $340M
Lionel Messi’s net worth is a staggering $340 million. The only current athletes who earn more are Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James, according to Forbes’ 2017 list of the highest-paid athletes. Messi earned $80 million in 2017. That sum breaks down to $53 million in salary — along with the many bonuses his contract affords him — and $27 million from endorsement deals, which include his “lifetime” deal with Adidas that’s worth more than $10 million per year. His other huge sports endorsement deals include contracts with Gatorade, Huawei and Tata Motors.
In July 2016, Messi and his father, Jorge Messi, were sentenced to 21 months and 15 months, respectively, in prison for tax fraud by a Spanish court. However, their sentences were officially replaced with fines in July 2017, and neither served any time in jail. Messi was ordered to pay 252,000 euros, which equated to 400 euros for each day of the sentence, and his father was fined 180,000 euros, per BBC News. The soccer star has denied any intentional wrongdoing.
Cristiano Ronaldo Net Worth: $400M
Forbes crowned Cristiano Ronaldo with the title of highest-paid athlete of 2017 — earning more than even the wealthiest U.S. athletes like Lebron James. In 2017, Ronaldo pulled in $93 million overall, with $58 million in earnings and $35 million in endorsement contracts.
According to Forbes, Ronaldo’s Real Madrid contract brings in more than $50 million annually in salary and bonuses. Ronaldo has been dubbed a “human billboard” because of his numerous endorsement deals, which include Nike and Tag Heuer, as well as his own line of underwear, shoes and fragrance. He also has a line of hotels.
A five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or — an annual award given to the best player in the world — Ronaldo’s net worth is $400 million.
Click through to read about the richest female athletes.
Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting of this article.
All net worth figures are according to Celebrity Net Worth and all salary figures are according to Forbes unless otherwise noted.