Football is undoubtedly the most admired and profitable sport in the world. Football attracts more corporate money than any other sport in the world, and a major chunk of the money the players took home last year was from endorsements from the likes of Nike, Adidas, Puma, Pepsi to name a few. With the arrival of Russian and Arab investors into the game, clubs have the potential to pay astronomical amounts of salaries to players causing an inflation in the market.
The game is swimming in money and some average players now earn more in a matter of weeks than US President Barrack Obama is paid over a whole year. Whether the traditional football fan likes it or not, money can buy trophies these days, and teams can rise to the top off the back off their owners’ deep pockets. We’re talking about you, PSG and Manchester City. Here is the list of the richest blokes who make a living out of kicking some leather filled with air.
Top 10 Richest Footballers in the World
1. David Beckham – Top 10 Richest Footballers
Some would say that David Beckham is overrated, but any player who can decide the fate of the game with one wicked kick from a magical right foot is a LEGEND. (Think 2002 WC qualifier against Greece) And every club has been more than pleased to pay Beckham for his services. Brand Beckham is one of the most sought after in the world and the former England captain cashes in on his popularity, raking in $ 50.6 MILLION a year through his fees and endorsement deals with Adidas, Breitling, H&M among many others.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – Top 10 Richest Footballers
The former Manchester United star is one of the most popular players in the world, aside from being one of the best. The 2008 World Player of the Year raked in $ 43.5 MILLION in salary, bonus and sponsorships from the likes of Nike and Castrol. Will close to 63 million Facebook fans and 22 million twitter followers( enough to fill Real’s Bernabeu stadium 1000-plus times over), he is the most socially engaged athlete online, and has been leading a new trend in endorsements – social network deals.
3. Lionel Messi – Top 10 Richest Footballers
Ronaldo’s La Liga nemesis, Lionel Messi, though was slower to join the social networking bandwagon, but has been equally active pitching the likes of Adidas and EA Sports to his millions of facebook fans. Even without the internet, the four-time World Player of the year’s fan base would still get their fill of him. The Argentine has been in unstoppable form over the last few seasons and has made the highlight reel of almost every match he has played on his way to shattering almost every personal, club and international record. It is said that Barcelona signed a muti-million dollar deal with Qatar Foundation to sponsor Messi’s humongous wages, worth $ 21.2 MILLION a year. He also earns $ 19.1 MILLION annualy through his endorsement deals with Adidas, Pepsi, EA Sports, Dolce & Gabana, and Turkish Airlines, making him the third highest earning footballer in the world.
4. Sergio Aguero – Top 10 Richest Footballers
Diego Maradona’s son-in-law is a surprise feature at the fourth position. But the Argentine will go down in the history books for winning Manchester City their first league title in five decades with a last-gasp winner against Queens Park Rangers a couple of seasons back. One of the best players in his position, Aguero’s pace and close control makes him one of the most destructive players in the world and earns him a whopping $ 20.8 MILLION every twelve months which includes his salary of $ 6.6 MILLION and an earnings of $ 4.2 MILLION through his endorsement deals with Puma and Pepsi.
5. Wayne Rooney – Top 10 Richest Footballers
The England forward is one of the most popular players in the world, and consistently sells the most number of jerseys around the world. Rooney’s jersey was the most popular replica kit around the globe in 2010-2011. There is a constant hype and craze that constantly occupies Wayne Rooney, and the Manchester United striker is regularly in newspapers – on the front and back pages, for good or bad reasons. But as they say, Any publicity is good publicity, and Rooney cashes in on his popularity, raking with $ 2.5 MILLION through his endorsement contracts with Nike and Harper Collins, making him the fifth highest earner with $ 20.3 MILLION.
6. Yaya Toure – Top 10 Richest Footballers
The Ivorian is the flag bearer of African football in the English Premier League, and has been Manchester City’s most consistent performer for the last couple of seasons. There’s very few players in the world as good as Toure in the box-to-box midfielder role, and the former Barcelona star played a crucial role in City’s title winning campaign in 2011-12. Toure is making $ 20.2 MILLION annually which includes his salary of $ 16.6 MILLION and advertising income of $ 3.6 MILLION. His biggest endorsement deal is with Puma.
7. Fernando Torres (tied 6th) – Top 10 Richest Footballers
The Spaniard is tied with Yaya Toure for the 6th position. Torres is a household name around the world having featured in Spain’s Euro and World Cup winning campaigns, as well in Chelsea’s famous Champions League triumph in 2012. The former Liverpool man has a massive global fan base, and inspite of failing to rewind the clock in the Chelsea shirt, the Spaniard makes $ 20.2 MILLION per year, which includes $ 3.6 MILLION from his sponsorship assignments with Nike and Pepsi. Indian fans, remember that Pepsi ad featuring Torres, Drogba and Lampard?
8. Neymar – Top 10 Richest Footballers
So much was being said about this Brazilian prodigy as he continued to make strides into European football with sizzling performances in the Brazilian league. The former Santos man was instrumental in guiding Brazil to Confederations cup glory earlier this year, and has been impressive in his opening few games for Barcelona. And at the tender age of 21, Neymar has time on his side. His biggest endorsements include Nike, Red Bull, Panasonic, and Volkswagen through which he earns around $ 9.1 MILLION per year, adding to his $ 10.4 MILLION a year from salaries.
9. Kaka – Top 10 Richest Footballers
To say that Kaka’s stock is on the downfall won’t be far from the truth. The Brazilian 2007 World Player of the year endured a tumultuous time during his four year spell at the Bernebeu, with his Real Madrid career curtailed by injuries and an inconsistent run of form. The Brazilian has made a return to AC Milan having taken a pay cut, but raked in $ 14.3 MILLION in salary last year despite making limited appearances for Madrid. Add his impressive $ 5.0 MILLION endorsing Adidas and Pepsi to his wages and that makes his annual earnings around $ 19.3 MILLION.
10. Didier Drogba – Top 10 Richest Footballers
Everyone’s favorite Ivorian is currently kicking around in Turkey for Galatasaray following a short spell in China. His time in Asia came to an abrupt end following a dispute with his club Shanghai Shenhua where he is rumored to have made upwards of £200,000 a week. The former Chelsea striker is in the twilight of his career, and the deep pockets of Galatasaray can comfortably manage his retirement plan. His earning from wages is an impressive $ 15.7 MILLION a year, adding to his $ 2.1 MILLION earnings from endorsing Nike and Pepsi.
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