With players transferring teams during the January transfer window and some contracts being renewed and restructured, we now see an updated ranking of the highest paid football players. And Barcelona made things right by bumping up significantly the salary of Lionel Messi, currently the greatest player in the world. But is it significant enough to take him to the top of the list?
Expect the list to be fluid again by the middle of the year when the main transfer window opens during the summer. If a European team can pry away Neymar from his native Brazil, the player will surely command top dollars. But as of March 2013, here is a list of the top 10 highest paid football players in the world, including bonuses and endorsements.
11 Kaka, Real Madrid - $20.96 million
Kaka’s shining moments may have already passed him by as his best days seems to have been with AC Milan. Still, Kaka has not given up hope of regaining his fearsome form, finally getting in some regular duty at Real Madrid where he has struggled under the helm of Jose Mourinho. He is still hoping that his old team AC Milan will cough up the money to buy him back this summer.
10 Fernando Torres, Chelsea - $22.59 million
Another player who has struggled to justify his astronomical salary is Fernando Torres. When he moved to Liverpool, he was a constant threat and seemed to score every game and every clutch moment. Then, he started pouting because of Liverpool’s lack of resources to buy other players to help challenge for the title. He moved to Chelsea, where he has failed to find a good stretch of in-form. This season may be his final chance to prove himself to the notoriously impatient owner of the team, Roman Abramovich.
9 Yaya Toure, Manchester City - $23.89 million
Yaya Toure is one of the most important players of the free-spending Manchester City team. The Ivory Coast national has a unique ability to combine speed, power and skills. He also has the capability to play from box to box, moving from the offensive side to the defensive end and vice versa with equal ease. He helped Barcelona win a Champions League in 2009 and he helped Manchester City finally nail down the league crown in 2012.
8 Sergio Aguero, Manchester City - $25.51 million
Sergio Aguero was Manchester City’s Player of the Year award for the 2011-12 season. He etched his name in the team’s lore forever by scoring a last gasp goal in added time in the last game of the season, thus helping the team secure its first league crown in 44 years. Aguero is the youngest player to ever be capped by the Argentinean national team.
7 Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris St. Germain - $26 million
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a Swedish national who has made an impact wherever he plays, and he plays only for the biggest teams. He has been with Ajax of Amsterdam, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris St. Germain. He is known for the wonder goal he scored against England. He holds the second highest transfer fee in football history at €69 million, which Barcelona paid to Inter Milan in 2009.
6 Wayne Rooney, Manchester United - $27.95 million
Ever since Wayne Rooney scored a tremendous goal for Everton against Arsenal when he was only 16 years old, he has been on the radar of the biggest teams. Manchester United finally got his signature in 2004 and Sir Alex Ferguson has not been disappointed. He has made 271 appearances for the team, scoring 140 goals in the process. He might be on the move this summer however with the emergence of Robin van Persie in the team and Paris St. Germain expressing interest.
5 Samuel Eto’o, Anzhi Makhachkala - $31.52 million
Samuel Eto’o has the highest basic salary of any footballer in the world. His Russian team pays him an astounding £350,000 per week. He won two European Cups or Champions League with Barcelona, before annexing a third one while playing for Inter Milan. The Cameroon native has been awarded the African Player of the Year Award four times.
4 Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid - $39.49 million
Cristiano Ronaldo burst into prominence as a player of Sporting Clube de Portugal. He quickly caught the attention of Manchester United because of his pace and trickery. He has won several Player of the Year honors and a Ballon d’Or in 2008. He won several trophies with the team before moving to Real Madrid for a record £80 million transfer fee. He quickly established several records with the team, including scoring a goal against every team in one season, first to reach 40 goals in a single season for two consecutive years, most goals scored per minute and the fastest Real Madrid player to score 100 goals.
3 David Beckham, Paris St. Germain - $42.57 million
David Beckham has been the face of English football for the longest time. He was one of Fergie’s Fledglings, a group of young players who came up from the Manchester United youth system. His combination of good looks and lethal passing and finishing quickly established him as a first team regular. He also captained the English national team several times. After a slight falling out with Ferguson, he transferred to Real Madrid. He has also played for AC Milan and the LA Galaxy in the United States. After his contract ended, he expressed a preference to move back to Europe in order to increase his chances of getting called up once more in the national team. Paris St. Germain signed him up last January and he hopes to play for the team even after the end of the season.
1 Lionel Messi, Barcelona - $44.68 million
Lionel Messi moved from Argentina to Barcelona to train in the latter’s famed youth academy. As early as 2005 when he was just 17, he was already being hailed by Diego Maradona as his heir apparent. He has helped his team win two Champions League, aside from being the fulcrum of the most entertaining style of play in the sport today. He has won four consecutive Ballond’Ors. He holds several records, among them the most goals in a season and most goals in a calendar year. He is considered one of the best to ever play the game.
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