The world’s richest footballers - past and present
It’s a sport watched in every corner of the world generating billions in revenue for TV broadcasters and clubs, and of course, this means that the players on the field are often well rewarded. It’s no secret that the average footballer can earn in a week what it takes us a year to make, but then there are those above average players (and astute businessmen) who are worth so much that we can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to have all that cash in the bank.
They’re football’s richest players, and yes, we’re incredibly jealous.
10. Gareth Bale – Net worth €110 million
Now that Ronaldo has left the club, Bale is Real Madrid’s highest earner on a staggering €400k+ per week deal. In fact, it was widely reported that after his most recent contract negotiations, Bale was already the club’s highest earner.
Despite being on such a hefty salary, Bale’s unwillingness to cash in too much on his image and status sees him just about make this list ahead of former pros Kaka, Ronaldinho, and Samuel Eto’o.
9. Ronaldo (the real one) – Net worth €130 million
Ronaldo made ridiculous stacks of cash playing for some of the world’s greatest and richest clubs, but it’s his post-playing career investments that have really paid off.
As soon as he retired, Ronaldo opened a sports marketing agency called 9ine and became an ambassador for a poker site. He also went into partnership with one of Brazil’s richest men opening soccer schools all over the world. He now owns a majority share in La Liga side Real Valladolid.
8. Wayne Rooney – Net worth €140 million
Now playing in the MLS, Rooney’s fortune was made at Man United where not only was he one of the highest earners in the league but he had huge endorsements padding out his wage packet.
His lucrative contract in the MLS will see him earn more than €17 million over three and a half years. Despite his various falls from grace and marital issues, he’s still got what it takes to earn a shedload of cash.
7. Neymar – Net worth €162million
The player that everyone loves to hate and who does himself no favours with his on-field theatrics, Neymar also happens to be one of the planet’s richest footballers. His contract with PSG is allegedly worth €65 million over 5 years and includes some ridiculous clauses.
Apparently he gets a bonus of €375,000 for saying hello to PSG fans before and after a match and another €2.5million a year for not criticising the manager’s tactics. Wow.
6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Net worth €166 million
Zlatan has enjoyed an illustrious career that has seen him win cups with Inter Milan, PSG, Ajax, Barcelona, and Man United before a move to the MLS. And thanks to his incredible skills (that goal against England) and the negotiating skills of his agent Mino Raiola, the Zlatan has earned himself a nice nest egg to take into retirement.
5. Dave Whelan – Net worth €185 million
No, we’re not joking. Dave Whelan who we all know as the man behind the Wigan team that made it into the Premier League was himself an accomplished footballer with stints at both Blackburn Rovers and Crewe Alexandra in his ten-year professional career.
He made his fortune with a chain of supermarkets called Whelan Discount Stores which he sold to Morrisons. He then made even more money with a small fishing and sports store which he turned into the chain JJB Sports. He’s a bit of a shock inclusion on the list, but with a €185 million fortune, he merits his place.
4. Lionel Messi – Net worth €350million
The man they call La Pulga (the flea, go figure?) is possibly the greatest player in modern football. In terms of goals and titles, only Cristiano Ronaldo can rival him, but for pure raw talent, he’s got to be the best.
And the best players earn the most. Messi takes home €580,000 a week at Barcelona, and that’s before we take his endorsements and various public appearance fees into account. Ridiculous money.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo – Net worth €395 million
There are players on this list who make just as much as Ronaldo in terms of salary but when it comes to net worth, few come close. And that’s because CR7 is quite the astute businessman. The self-proclaimed best player in the world is cashing in on his celebrity status with massive endorsements and 100% control over his image rights.
His less-than-honest tax returns that resulted in a massive €18 million fine sees him drop to third on this list despite his net worth being virtually the same as our number two player.
2. David Beckham – Net worth €395 million
If you know anything about football, you’ll know all about David Beckham’s career and the fact that he had one of the biggest contracts in the history of football when he joined LA Galaxy. But after his retirement, Beckham took great care to keep himself in the limelight by signing a huge number of endorsements and brand sponsorship deals.
He has two companies that manage his wealth; one for his commercial deals and sales and another that handles his image rights. But he’s not done yet. Beckham’s new Miami-based MLS team will play in the 2020 season and who knows how much money that will make him.
1. Faiq Bolkiah – Net worth €17.5 billion
Who, and how much? We’ll forgive you if you’ve never even heard of Faiq Bolkiah much less knew that he was the world’s richest footballer, but it’s true. The 20-year-old midfielder plays for Leicester City’s reserve team and has spent most of his young life training hard to become a professional footballer. He played for the youth sides of Arsenal, Southampton, and Chelsea before arriving at Leicester and on one occasion captained the Brunei national side despite never having played a minute of senior-level club football.
Of course, the fact that his uncle is the Sultan of Brunei may have something to do with that. He may not have access to his incredible fortune just yet, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s worth an estimated €17.5 billion. Something tells us that Ronaldo and Beckham will never quite make it that far.
Honorable mention – Mathieu Flamini.
Flamini currently plays for La Liga side Getafe, but it’s outside the world of football that he could make his fortune. He is the co-founder of GF Biochemicals, a company that looks set to skyrocket in value in the very near future. They are the first company with the ability to mass produce levulinic acid which could eventually replace petroleum in fuel products. With a 50% stake in the company, we imagine he’s going to be quite rich in the not too distant future.