The ludicrous amounts of money involved in football are beyond anyone’s expectations over the last two decades or so. The sport’s top performers share billions of pounds from exorbitant transfer fees to incredible prize funds. But who rises above the rest?
While most of the following players are undoubtedly at the pinnacle of their game, their talent alone is not the only reason they’ve amassed such fortunes. Instead, they can leverage their public image to maximise their earnings, making them extremely wealthy. Just as any visitor to an online casino will wish to sniff out the highest RTP live slot to ensure they get the most significant return on their investment, so too have these individuals achieved the highest net worth with the tools at their disposal.
5. Neymar Da Silver Santos Junior – $200 million
The Brazilian superstar Neymar has come a long way since his days at Santos in his native country. A headline-grabbing transfer to Barcelona in 2013 made him a household name, but it was the big-money move to PSG four years later which cemented his place among football’s earning elite. At the time, he became the highest-paid footballer (and potentially the highest-paid athlete, in terms of base salary) with a deal reported to be worth $78 million per year, plus bonuses.
4. Dave Whelan – $220 million
Something of the odd one out on this list, Dave Whelan is unique in that he hasn’t played a competitive football game for over half a century. The former full-back had a respectable but unremarkable career at Blackburn Rovers and Crewe Alexandra – but it was only when Whelan hung up his boots that he came into the money. He made his fortune in running supermarkets and sports stores before acquiring Wigan Athletic in 1995 and guiding them from Division Three to the Premiership in just ten years.
3. Lionel Messi – $400 million
This year, Messi was named Ballon d’Or winner for an unprecedented seventh time, moving two clear of his greatest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo. Indeed, Messi has only finished outside of the top three in the voting for the world’s best footballer once in the last 14 seasons! Quite the achievement. Like Neymar, he recently made the trip from Barcelona to Paris, collecting a hefty pay packet in the process. Universally recognised as one of the best players of all time, he’s also one of the richest.
2. David Beckham – $450 million
Despite calling time on a glittering football career over eight years ago, the world-famous England star remains one of the world’s wealthiest players. He has since become co-owner of two newly founded clubs (Salford City and Inter Miami) and has a string of lucrative advertising sponsorship deals, including many fashion endorsements. His immense wealth comes with a caveat: it’s a combined figure owned by himself and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – $500 million
Messi may have the edge on Ronaldo in terms of Ballon d’Or, but it’s very much undecided which of the two is the finer footballer. However, what isn’t up for debate is who has a higher net worth. Ronaldo has played for some of the most prestigious clubs globally, including Manchester United (twice), Real Madrid and Juventus. At the same time, his side hustle in endorsements from big-name companies like Nike and FIFA mean he earns upwards of $100 million each year. At present, he’s estimated to have over half a billion dollars in personal assets.
The figures bandied about in football are mind-numbing enough at the best of times, but these five players and ex-pros take things to the next level.