In recent times, the financial landscape of football has experienced significant shifts, largely due to the influx of funds into the sport, particularly from emerging markets like Saudi Arabia. This has resulted in astronomical salaries for top players, often surpassing those in other professions. Here’s a rundown of the ten highest-paid footballers based on their basic salary, as per the latest available data:


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


Widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines with his move to Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia. His staggering annual salary of £173 million underscores his superstar status, making him one of the highest-earning athletes globally.

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

Neymar Jr., once touted as a potential Ballon d’Or recipient, joined Al-Hilal after his tenure at Paris Saint-Germain. Despite not clinching the top individual award, his annual salary of £86 million reflects his immense marketability and prowess on the field.

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

Following a stellar career at Real Madrid, Karim Benzema made a move to Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia. His annual wage of £85 million 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 most promising young talents in football, remains with Paris Saint-Germain despite significant interest from other clubs. His yearly 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 with his departure from Barcelona to PSG and now to Inter Miami. Despite being widely considered the greatest player in history by many, his annual salary of £55 million places him below some of his peers in terms of earnings.

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

Known for his contributions at Manchester City, Riyad Mahrez moved to Al Ahli with a substantial annual salary of £45 million, highlighting his value as a top winger.

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

Sadio Mané’s transfer to Al-Nassr followed a spell with Bayern Munich. His yearly wage of £35 million underscores the financial might of clubs in Saudi Arabia.

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

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

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

Kalidou Koulibaly’s move to Al-Hilal from Chelsea made him one of the highest-paid defenders, earning £30 million annually and illustrating the financial clout 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, showcasing the allure of Saudi football for seasoned players.

These figures underscore the exorbitant sums involved in modern football contracts, fueled by the global commercialization of the sport and the financial backing of affluent owners and sponsors. While debates persist regarding the ethics and sustainability of such high salaries in football, players continue to capitalize on the opportunities presented, maximizing their earnings during their relatively brief careers.