12 highest-paid football players in the world in 2023

From Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo, PSG to Manchester City, here are the salaries of the best football players. Some of these names will surprise you…

Neymar Jr – highest-paid football players in the world 2022

Antoine Dellenbach

FOOTBALL IS UNDOUBTEDLY the most popular sport in world (even if some people call it soccer – we’ll forgive them).

It’s estimated to reach more than 3.5 billion fans. Cricket is the only one that comes close with 2.5 billion.

With great popularity comes great salary. The numbers have hit surreal heights and the trend does not seem to be slowing down.

Let’s talk about the players who take the sweetest piece of pie. Here is the list of the highest-paid football players on the planet in 2023.

Some of these names will undoubtedly surprise you, though…

Highest-paid footballers 2023


Cristiano Ronaldo

Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Over 20 years into his professional career, Ronaldo has become the first man to score in five World Cups. So perhaps it’s no surprise he ranks at the top of the list of highest-paid football players in the world.

Back in the summer of 2021, he became the highest-paid player in the history of the English Premier League when he signed a two-year deal with his old club Manchester United. But we all know how that ended.

His recent move to Al Nassr – a result of him having “won everything in Europe” – sees the player earning a staggering $200 million a year making the five-time Ballon d’Or winner the highest-earning football player in the world.

It’s a move from the Portuguese pro that’s caused much debate, but one there’s no denying it’s one hell of a pay day.


Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the French L1 football match between Strasbourg RC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at La Meinau stadium in Strasbourg, eastern France, on April 29, 2022


We’ll see the French giants a few times on this list. Three of the four highest-paid football stars earn their living from one club, PSG.


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Interestingly, it is still not enough for the Parisians to win UEFA Champions League. Nevertheless, Kylian Mbappe previously had to top spot for highest paid footballer in the world when he signed his contract with PSG.

Despite frequently stating his desire to play for Real Madrid, Mbappe opted against joining the Spanish giants and instead committed his future to Paris in a deal that apparently gives him control over coaching appointments and player recruitment.

Hopefully that will help ease the sting of the inevitable bottling in the Champo knockouts next season.


Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Third spot is reserved for arguably the best player in the history of the game. After his performance at the World Cup, it’s hard to deny Lionel Messi GOAT status.

The Argentinean superstar became a free agent after making the surprising decision to leave Barcelona in the summer of 2021.

Messi joined PSG not long after leaving Camp Nou. The French heavyweights offered Leo a whopping $41 million net annual salary, with off-field earnings bringing his tally closer to $120 million.

The contract was signed for two years with the option of expanding it to a third.


Neymar Jr of Paris Saint-Germain reacts during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain and Stade Reims at Parc des Princes

Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images

Next up is Messi’s teammate Neymar who has signed a contract extension with PSG in the summer of 2021.

The Brazilian star will be loyal to the Parisian outfit until the summer of 2025 – and receive $36.5 million a year for his troubles. Chuck in an extra $32 million in off-field earnings, and he won’t be far off the $70 million mark.

Neymar has constantly been among the top five or top ten players in the world in the last decade.

He has won everything in France but would certainly trade numerous domestic titles for the much-wanted UEFA Champions League silverware.

Speaking of which, PSG have included a hefty bonus tag into Neymar’s contract if the team go on and win the elite continental competition.


Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates his goal to make it 2-0 during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United at Anfield on January 19, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

The Egyptian king of Liverpool signed a new three-year deal at the start of July 2022 that made him the highest paid player in the history of the club.

It was well-deserved, after a staggering 176 goals in 290 games in his time at Anfield – and counting. 

Salah is more important to his club than ever after a disappointing 2022/23 season.


Erling Haaland of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his teams second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on October 02, 2022 in Manchester, England.

Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

Manchester City’s big signing has lived up to his high expectations after penning a huge deal.

His arrival in 2022 wasn’t Haaland’s first taste of Manchester life, as his father played for the Citizens in the early 2000s, a time that spawned a now-famous picture of a young Haaland Jr in a City shirt.

Erling Haaland scored 25 goals in his first 19 Premier League appearances – a staggering record for the game’s next global superstar


Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Junior of Shanghai SIPG FC celebrates a score during the AFC Champions League 2017 Group F match between Shanghai SIPG FC (CHN) and FC Seoul (KOR) at the Shanghai Stadium on 26 April 2017 in Shanghai, China

Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Eyebrows were raised when Oscar moved to China in 2016 with the peak of his career still to come. 

However, it’s been estimated that the Brazilian earned more than three times his salary at Shanghai than he would have done at the Blues.

Yes, he might have lost out on a more high-profile career but we imagine the private island he probably owns will ease the balm of missing out on the bigger trophy cabinet. 


Eden Hazard of Real Madrid celebrates prior to seeing his goal canceled after a VAR decision during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis Balompie at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 02, 2019 in Madrid, Spain.

Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid rival only Manchester United in terms of paying footballers vast wages and then failing to get the best out of them.

Hazard has spent the majority of his time at Real Madrid in the treatment room since joining from Chelsea back in 2019.

He’s not exactly been in sparkling form whenever he has made the team, either.


Andres Iniesta of Vissel Kobe celebrates his goal during the AFC Champions League Round of 16 match between Vissel Kobe and Shanghai SIPG at the Khalifa International Stadium on December 7, 2020 in Doha, Qatar.

Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

Admit it: you thought Iniesta had retired. No – while his great teammate Xavi is currently managing Barcelona, the man who scored the winner in the 2010 World Cup final is currently dazzling defences in Japan.

Since joining Vissell Kobe in 2018, Iniesta has won the Emperor’s Cup and the Japanese Super Cup with his new club. He’s 38 years old and might yet play until 40.  


Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on March 6, 2022 in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

He is arguably the best player in the world right now, and that quality is reflected in a hefty wage packet.

The Belgian midfielder has put his signing on a renewed contract in the summer of 2021. He has put pen to paper to extend loyalty to Manchester City until 2025.

This luxury will cost the Citizens more than $24 million a year, though the exact figure is unknown – and you can be sure to add in a few mil in off-field earnings.


David De Gea of Manchester United celebrates his sides first goal scored by Marcus Rashford of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford on October 20, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Manchester United’s keeper was once considered the best keeper in the world, but has since endured a streaky few years.

He’s still world-class on his day, though, as is reflected in his huge salary.

De Gea has one year remaining on his contract. Whether he’ll sign an extension or move on will depend on the opinion of new managed Erik Ten Haag.


Toni Kroos of Real Madrid celebrates as he scores their second goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Real Madrid CF and SSC Napoli at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 15, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

One of the great midfielders of his generation, rumours abound that Toni Kross will retire when his contract expires at the end of next season. 

If so, the German can reflect on a brilliant career in which he banked millions of dollars and won nearly as many Champions Leagues – plus the World Cup in 2014. 

It’a easy to forget Kroos has a stupendously successful stint at Bayern Munich before joining Real Madrid. 

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