Soccer is a sport so universally loved billions of people both play and watch it, but the sport’s best leagues are found in Europe. Much like America’s National Basketball Association and National Football League, playing in the European soccer leagues- particularly Spain’s La Liga and England’s Premier League- is deemed the pinnacle because of the caliber of players they attract.
However, world-class players also grace other leagues, such as France’s Ligue 1 and Germany’s Bundesliga, which means that as well as broadcasting some of the finest soccer talents on their shores, they also have hefty wage bills that would put certain NBA and NFL salaries to shame. With that in mind, we’ve decided to list the highest paid players in the men’s game.
Please note that this is not an assessment of overall wealth, but of yearly earnings from a yearly period. The list is no particular order.
1Cristiano Ronaldo- $108m
Aside from pop superstar Taylor Swift, Cristiano Ronaldo boasts more social media followers than any other public figure, and while many in America may not know who he is, the rest of the world sure does. He’s a leader of men and a talent no other active soccer player, barring the magisterial might of the Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi, has been able to match.
Scouted by the legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson following Manchester United’s loss against Ronaldo’s first professional team Sporting Lisbon in a pre-season friendly, an 18-year-old Ronaldo ran rings around accomplished full-back Gary Neville, and it was that impressive display that persuaded Ferguson to pay £12m to bring him to Manchester.
Initially castigated by teammates for not trying hard enough, Cristiano would soon dedicate every waking hour to being the best player in the world, and he soon morphed from a skinny teenager into a brawny winger more adept with the physicality that playing in England’s top division required.
More importantly, his mindset changed, and in his final season in Manchester, he scored 42 goals to finish a career in England which included a Champions League trophy and three Premier League titles. Such impressive accolades caught Real Madrid’s attention, a club who he would win four Champions League trophies with before transferring over to Seria A champions Juventus following 9 record-breaking years at the Bernabéu.