Sunday, 21 Jul 2024

Who Are Football’s Highest Paid Players?

Best Paid Football Players in the World

Let’s explore the world of football and take a closer look at the highest paid players. It’s no secret that the money in football is staggering. In fact, it’s hard to even fathom the incredible sums of money involved. It’s like a surreal game of Monopoly, where players can own everything from properties to entire neighborhoods.

But how did we get to this point? What factors have influenced the astronomical wages of football players over the years? And who are the highest paid players in the game today?

History of Football Wages

Jimmy Hill, Advocate of scrapping the minimum wage

To understand the evolution of football wages, we need to take a journey through history, starting in 1885. It was then that the Football Association allowed clubs to employ professional footballers and pay them a wage, under the condition that they were born within six miles of the club’s ground or had lived there for at least two years.

In 1893, Derby County proposed a maximum wage of £4 per week, which was later implemented for the 1901-1902 season. This led some players, earning as much as £10 per week, to leave the Football League for the Southern League, which had no such restrictions. After World War I, the FA increased the maximum wage to £10.

Over the following decades, the maximum wage fluctuated, but eventually increased substantially. It was £14 in 1951, £15 in 1953, £17 in 1957, and reached £20 in 1958. Jimmy Hill, the President of the Professional Footballers’ Association, campaigned to scrap the maximum wage. In 1961, his efforts paid off, and the first player to earn £100 per week was Johnny Haynes, the captain of England and a Fulham teammate of Hill.

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With the removal of the maximum wage, it was only a matter of time before footballers’ salaries would skyrocket. Football has long been the national sport in England, and as long as thousands of people wanted to watch it, clubs would want to attract the best players. In 1979, Nottingham Forest made history by signing Trevor Francis for £1 million and making Peter Shilton the highest paid player in the country with £1,200 per week.

The numbers continued to grow exponentially. Chris Sutton signed for Blackburn in 1994 and earned £10,000 per week. The Bosman ruling in 1995 allowed out-of-contract players to move freely and demand even higher wages. By 2001, Sol Campbell was earning £100,000 per week at Arsenal. In 2010, Carlos Tevez became the first player to earn £1 million per month, or £286,000 per week, when he signed for Manchester City.

Of course, these figures have been surpassed in recent years, particularly with the emergence of the Saudi Pro League, which has enticed world-class players with contracts that European clubs cannot match.

Highest Paid Players 2021/22

Lionel Messi Top Paid Player

Now that we understand how wages have grown over time, let’s take a look at the current highest paid players in the world.

Keep in mind that these figures are constantly changing. What may be true today could be different in just a few seasons. Additionally, players often earn more than just their wages through image deals and endorsements.

For the 2021/22 season, the table below showcases the top 15 highest paid players worldwide.

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Rank Player Club Weekly Wage
1 Lionel Messi Paris Saint-Germain £1,325,000
2 Cristiano Ronaldo Al Nassr £1,200,000
3 Neymar Paris Saint-Germain £925,000
4 Kylian Mbappé Paris Saint-Germain £875,000
5 Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich £775,000
6 Paul Pogba Manchester United £600,000
7 Mohamed Salah Liverpool £520,000
8 Antoine Griezmann Barcelona £500,000
9 Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City £485,000
10 Gareth Bale Real Madrid £450,000
11 Sergio Aguero Barcelona £400,000
12 Harry Kane Tottenham £400,000
13 Eden Hazard Real Madrid £400,000
14 Raheem Sterling Manchester City £390,000
15 Luis Suarez Atletico Madrid £385,000

Note how many of these players are affiliated with the same clubs. These clubs have the financial means to meet players’ salary demands. Sometimes, contracts even include clauses stipulating that a player must be the highest earner at the club, resulting in increased pay for top stars.

It’s also worth mentioning that the average wage for Premier League players in the 2021/22 season was around £205,000 per week, a significant increase compared to £39,500 per week in 2015. Even though average players may not appear on this list, they still enjoy considerable salaries in the grand scheme of things.

Highest Paid Players 2023/24

Cristiano Ronaldo Highest Paid Player

Looking ahead to the 2023/24 season, we can observe even more growth in wages at the top end of the spectrum. This increase is primarily due to the influence of the Saudi Pro League, backed by the considerable oil wealth held by various princes in that region.

The highest wage in football has surged by 246% following Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr. However, as we move down the list, the wage increases gradually decrease. For instance, Romelu Lukaku’s annual salary in 2021/22 of £16.9 million has only increased by 15%, with Erling Haaland taking his place at Manchester City on a wage of £19.5 million. This distortion is caused by the massive sums commanded by the most coveted players.

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Q: How have football wages changed over time?
A: Football wages have seen exponential growth over the years, fueled by factors such as the removal of maximum wage limits, increased popularity of the sport, and the emergence of wealthy leagues like the Saudi Pro League.

Q: Who is the highest paid football player in the world?
A: As of the 2021/22 season, Lionel Messi is the highest paid player, earning £1,325,000 per week at Paris Saint-Germain.

Q: Which clubs can afford to pay the highest wages?
A: Clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Al Nassr, and Manchester City have the financial resources to meet the wage demands of top players.


Football has come a long way since its humble beginnings. The wages earned by players today are mind-boggling, reflecting the global popularity and financial impact of the sport. From the removal of maximum wage limits to the rise of lucrative leagues, football’s highest paid players command astronomical sums.

While the numbers may shock us, it’s important to remember that these players also generate significant income through image rights and endorsements. Football continues to captivate fans around the world, making it a lucrative industry for both players and clubs alike.

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