As much as it is a sport, soccer has very much become one of the biggest business playgrounds in the world, with investors from all corners of the Earth looking to inject cash into specific soccer teams for both financial riches and the ultimate glory. From Dubai businessmen to Russian billionaires, the biggest and best soccer entities have seen cash injections from such individuals to bring to them the greatest of talent.
With the sport as we know having changed ever since the first of these multi-million-pound-club takeovers occurred, the very foundations of how a club’s success is attained has changed forever. Gone are the days of home-grown talent being nurtured through the years, instead replaced by big money signings who, in turn, demand incredibly outrageous signing on fees and wages.
In fact, the life of a soccer player these days is beyond belief, with the ambitious wage demands from players met on a regular occurrence in order for the biggest and best soccer teams to not only fulfill fan wishes but also ultimately bring home the coveted trophies for their cabinets. Global soccer is not just one of the biggest sports on the planet but also a trading ground involving billions of pounds, and being a footballer these days means living the high life.
From Argentinian wizards to winking Portuguese starlets, the soccer world possesses some truly outstanding talent whose wage bills match their on-field credentials. Here are 15 of the highest paid players from around the world who are currently reaping the rewards of their technical abilities.
15. Asamoah Gyan (Shanghai SIPG) – £227,000 per week
From Sunderland to literally becoming one of the highest-paid players in the world, the rise of Asamoah Gyan is one that is simply staggering. Having started his career back in 2003 at Ghanian team Liberty Professionals, the African starlet has since played for Italian club Udinese, French side Rennes, English Premier League team Sunderland and UAE’s Al Ain (where he was reportedly paid £6 million per season).
But it wasn’t his stint at Al Ain where he earned the most money, with that coming with his move to China Super League’s Shanghai SIPG. The cash-rich club signed the Ghanaian international in 2015, offering him a staggering £227,000 per week, proving that the Chinese teams weren’t holding back in looking to forge one of the biggest leagues in the world.
14. Luis Suarez (Barcelona) – £230,000 per week
Whether you love him or hate him, Uruguayan Luis Suarez is quite simply one of the best strikers in the world at the moment. A striker who not only pitches in with his fair share of goals for Barcelona, he has forged a unique and unstoppable bond with fellow teammates Neymar and Lionel Messi to create a devastating attacking trio.
For all his controversies tracking all the way back to his career at Ajax, during his successful spell at Liverpool, and even during the World Cup in an incident with Giorgio Chiellini, Suarez is worth his weight in gold. And that’s exactly why he’s currently on the top earners list, taking home a whopping £230,000 per week for his services.
13. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – £230,000 per week
Wherever he has played, Sergio Aguero has lit up football stadiums and proved to be one of the deadliest finishers in front of a goal that you can find. Having originally starred for Independiente, Aguero moved to Spanish giants Atletico Madrid for a spell that would eventually see a £38 million move to English side Manchester City.
Since his move to English soccer, Aguero certainly hasn’t stopped. Hitting the ground running almost instantly, the Argentine danger man has racked up 119 goals and is often among the top goalscorers in the English Premier League each and every season.
12. Yaya Toure (Manchester City) – £230,000 per week
Having previously been a force to be reckoned with among the elite midfielders at Spanish giants Barcelona, Yaya Toure‘s 2010 move to Manchester City saw him become a fan favorite at the North West club in a short space of time.
A powerhouse midfielder built for strength, prowess and so much more, Toure has provided a solid wall at the core of the City center field for years, before finding himself recently somewhat on the sidelines more under new boss Pep Guardiola.
That being said, and despite a few occasions in which he voiced his unrest at the club (them forgetting his birthday became a big issue), Toure still remains one of the team’s top paid players at a tidy £230,000 a week.
11. Robin Van Persie (Fenerbahce) – £240,000 per week
For years, Robin Van Persie provided a talismanic force at English Premier League team Arsenal, providing them with a staggering number of goals and proving to fans that another Dutch star could follow in the footsteps of Dennis Bergkamp.
But after his shameless move to Manchester United — a long time rival of Arsenal’s — his reputation was somewhat shattered and, while still reasonably successful in his time at the Red Devils, the Dutchman would soon move on to Turkish side Fenerbahce.
10. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) – £260,000 per week
One of the most famous English strikers out there playing today, Wayne Rooney‘s rise to stardom came at a very early age at boyhood club Everton, introducing the world to his capabilities with a stunning strike against Arsenal. And the man hasn’t looked back since.
Moving on from Everton to Manchester United, Rooney has been a stalwart at the club for over a decade and has become the club’s highest ever scorer, surpassing club legend Sir Bobby Charlton and cementing himself as a true legend.
In the midst of mass transfer speculation and Rooney himself declaring he would leave United in recent times, he was coaxed into remaining with the club and is now reveling in a nice weekly wage of £260,000 a week.
9. Neymar (Barcelona) – £275,000 per week
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, a name that we’ll all remember for being this generation’s Pele. It is by no means an exaggeration to say that there simply has not been such a scintillating and technically masterful talent in Brazilian football quite like Neymar in a very long time.
Still at such a young age, the 25-year-old has lit up world football and struck fear into the eyes of his opponents on regular occasions. Having been plucked from Santos by Barcelona in a deal worth over £50 million, the young Brazilian has racked up a ridiculous number of awards in his short career and is already the fourth highest goalscorer ever for his country.
Since joining Barcelona, Neymar has averaged over a goal per game and is part of the lethal three-pronged attack alongside fellow peers Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. This is one South American maestro who is well worth his £275,000 per week.
8. Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng) – £290,000 per week
A man who opted for soccer instead of ballroom dancing, Graziano Pelle certainly thanks his lucky stars for that career path when he made the move from Southampton to Chinese Super League team Shandon Lueng last year.
With the move coming at a surprise time, even with the striker having enjoyed a rather successful stint at the South coast English team, Pelle was rewarded with a behemoth weekly wage of £290,000. This was once again a huge indicator that the Chinese league teams were ready to spend big in order to create a truly competitive league of their own.
7. Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – £290,000 per week
Paul Pogba’s soccer career is one that is well and truly one-of-a-kind, much like the footballer’s personality and appearance. With his striking hairstyles and choice words that he will one day likely live to regret, Pogba has risen from being let go on a free transfer by Manchester United to forging himself into a world-beater at Juventus, to now returning to his first club.
It’s a bizarre turn of events, especially with Pogba expressly stating that he would never return to United ever again, but here is a case of money talking to a player like never before.
Initially, United being prepared to break the world record transfer fee would have certainly turned Pogba’s head, but when he was offered a huge £290,000 a week to return, the deal was sealed. His season overall may not have been lucrative for the player or his team, but his bank balance most certainly has been.
6. Hulk (Shanghai SIPG) – £320,000 per week
Another case of the Chinese teams throwing their financial weight around at every opportunity, another of Brazil’s elite to make the move to one of the most powerful countries in the world is Hulk.
The powerhouse forward moved from Russian side Zenit St Petersburg to Shanghai SIPG following a successful stint, which saw him being awarded best player and top goalscorer in the Russian league. With the Chinese seeing his mass appeal and talent, it took a fee of over £55 million to yank him away from the Russian champions and a wage packet of £320,000 per week.
The move, which took place last year, has certainly paid dividends already as Hulk has amassed an impressive tally of 8 goals in 13 appearances so far for his new club and remains one of the top talents plying his trade in the newfound Super League.
5. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – £336,000 per week
Widely regarded as not just the best player currently plying his trade on the soccer field, but also one of the greatest of this generation, it comes as no surprise that Argentinian Lionel Messi is currently the highest paid player for Barcelona.
An absolute wizard of artistry of the field of play, Messi has been dazzling fans all over the world for years now and is often the subject of transfer speculation from the biggest clubs around. Having notched up a total of four Ballon d’Or wins in his illustrious career, Messi is the archetypical star playmaker in the Barcelona team, which already possesses its fair share of world-class talent.
Seemingly having been around for ages, Lionel Messi is still only 29, leaving many years of his soccer career to come and no doubt, with it, an increased wage packet in and more trophies in his ever-growing cabinet.
4. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) – £350,000 per week
Gareth Bale‘s soccer career has been one that has featured its fair share of ups and downs, to say the least. The Welshman may be playing some of the best soccer of his career now that he has found his feet at Real Madrid, but it wasn’t all plain sailing for the former most expensive player in the world.
There was a time when Bale, in his early days at Tottenham Hotspur, couldn’t salvage a win to save his life. In fact, Spurs went on an unheard of run without a win all while Bale was with them. Thankfully for the Cardiff man, he turned that around to become a well sought after attacking left winger, soon culminating in a world-record fee move to Spain.
With a record fee comes a wage of true fruition, Bale landing a contract that delivered £350,000 per week. Add that to the fact that he would be sharing the field with the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, and co, and he was in dreamland.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – £365,000 per week
Often seen as one of the most charismatic — and arrogant — footballers on the planet, there is little to deny that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the top soccer stars in the world. In fact, his rivalry with fellow La Liga player Lionel Messi is one for the history books.
With the pair on ignition from the very first game of the season, the Ballon D’Or is very much a foregone conclusion each year as these two are always duking it out against one another for the coveted prize.
No surprises then when it’s revealed that the Portuguese player earns a whopping £365,000 for his services to Real Madrid. Can you blame the Spanish giants for paying a wage like that to secure his services? After all, this is the man who delivers 30 goals and more per season.
2. Oscar (Shanghai SIPG) – £400,000 per week
Regarded as one of the most controversial transfer moves in recent history, Chelsea’s Oscar took a bold move to transfer to China’s Shanghai SIPG in December of 2016 as his move broke the Asian transfer record. The £60 million deal sent shockwaves through the soccer community, with Chelsea fans surprised not at such a talent being let go, but also by the sheer fact that the Brazilian had opted to move for the money, with a lucrative £400,000 per week awaiting him.
The 25-year-old has been heralded as the new Kaka, and it almost felt the perfect fit for him to continue his rise within England’s Premier League, but with big money players from China highlighting him, it was clearly too good to turn down.
The young Brazilian international has only seen game time in four appearances so far this year, so here’s hoping he’s not regretting that move just yet. Mind you, if someone paid you that much every week, you’d be pretty content.
1. Carlos Tevez (Shanghai Shenhua) – £615,000 per week
Carlos Tevez earns what can only be described as a truly ridiculous amount of money. Having moved from his second stint at boyhood club Boca Juniors in 2016 to Chinese team Shanghai Shenhua, Tevez is now earning himself an astronomical £615,000 per week. That equates to over £30 million a year — simply unreal.
That is the might of the Chinese teams currently competing in the world of football and business, with Tevez just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the financial might of these newfound entities in the soccer world.
But with riches don’t always come success stories, and while Tevez remains in sharp form on the pitch, it is rumored that after just a few months in China, he has become disillusioned, and the money may not be all it is cracked up to be. Could Carlos be on his way back to Boca Juniors very soon? If the rumors are to be believed, then we could be seeing this in the headlines in the not-too-distant future.