They play the beautiful game, and they get paid handsomely for it. They are some of the greatest players in the world, the guys that clubs are willing to pay through the roof because they can be the difference in the search for glory. Here is a list of the top 10 highest paid soccer players based on basic wages. This means this is their pay before taxes. Endorsement money is not included. The figures are the actual amounts that the clubs are paying for their services.
1. Samuel Eto’o, Anzhi Makhachkala – €20 million
Eto’o is a Cameroon national who also holds a Spanish passport. He plays for the big-spending Russian team Anzhi Makhachkala. He is the leading scorer in the history of the African Nations Cup with 18 goals. He has been African Player of the Year four times. He had burst into the limelight as a member of the fabled Barcelona team where he won the Champions League twice. He then transferred to Inter Milan where he won another Champions League title.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint Germain – €14.5 million
He is a Swedish striker who plays for Paris Saint Germain in the French Ligue 1. He started out his career with the Swedish club Malmo FF before he was snapped up by the Dutch giant Ajax. He then transferred to Juventus where he formed a formidable partnership with the French striker David Trezeguet. He moved to Inter Milan in 2006 before transferring to Barcelona for €69 million, the second highest transfer fee ever. He failed to settle in, so he went back to Italy to play for AC Milan. He transferred to PSG at the start of the 2012 season.
3. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United – €13.8 million
He started out as a teen wonder from Everton, scoring a memorable goal for the club against Arsenal. Manchester United took an interest and Sir Alex Ferguson brought him in to Old Trafford. He has won the Premier League four times and the Champions the 2009-10 season.
4. Yaya Toure, Manchester City – €13 million
Yaya Toure is a player from Ivory Coast who struts his wares for Manchester City in the English Premier League. He was a key member of the Barcelona team that won the Champions League in 2009 where he played the center back position. He can also play the midfield role with aplomb, often going from box to box that showcases his passing ability, technique and power. The club’s big-spending owners bought him into Manchester City in 2010 and he has provided a crucial presence since then.
5. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City – €12.5 million
He is the youngest player to ever play in the Argentine Primera Division when he suited up for his club at the young age of 15 years old. He was part of the Argentina team that won the under-20 World Cup twice and the Olympic gold medal in 2008. In Europe, he first played for the La Liga outfit Atletico Madrid, winning the Europa League and the Super Cup in 2010. He moved to Manchester City at the start of the 2011-12 season and he cemented his name in the minds of Manchester City fans when he scored an injury time winner in the last game of the season that gave the club its first league title in 44 years.
6. Didier Drogba, Shanghai Shenhua – €12 million
The Ivory Coast international is considered a legend for the London club Chelsea. Known for his strength, power and accurate finishing, he helped his team win the Champions League trophy in 2012 by equalizing just as time was about to expire, before going on to kick the crucial penalty in the ensuing shootout. He was also instrumental in several of the trophies that Chelsea won during his eight-year stay in the club. He then transferred to the Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua after his contract with Chelsea expired.
7. Fernando Torres, Chelsea – €10.8 million
He first made his name playing for Atletico Madrid in the La Liga. He transferred to Liverpool in 2007, quickly establishing himself as a fan favorite by scoring often and in the clutch. The club’s lack of trophies frustrated him and he forced a transfer to Chelsea in 2011. His first two years in London proved to be a flop, however, as he failed to provide the goals that was expected of a player that cost the club GBP50 million. He did satisfy his desire for trophies, however, as the club won the FA Cup and the Champions League even though he failed to make any major contribution.
8. Dario Conca, Guangzhou Evergrande – €10.6 million
Conca is an Argentine attacking midfielder who plays for Guangzhou Evergrande in China. He used to play for Fluminense in the Brazilian domestic league where he won the Player of the Year award in 2009 and 2011. He helped his team win the domestic league title in the process. He moved to China in 2011, where he helped his new club to the Super Cup at the start of the 2012 season. The club also won the Chinese Super League. Conca, however, has had some run-ins with the club and has reportedly handed in a transfer request.
9. Lionel Messi, Barcelona – €10.5 million
He joined the Barcelona youth team when he was just 13 years old. Messi has since evolved to be one of the greatest football players to ever play the game. He has won the Ballon d’Or four times, including three consecutive awards. His club has won practically every trophy up for grabs. He was part of the Argentine team that won the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – €10 million
He first played for Sporting Clube de Portugal where he attracted the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson during a Champions League game. He transferred to Manchester United where he won several team and individual trophies. He moved to the Bernabeu when Real Madrid forked out GBP80 million for him in 2009. He already holds several records for the club, including most goals scored in a single season.