Football has become big business around the globe, and not just in the top league in England. Proof of that can be found in the list of the highest-paid footballers of the 2022/23 season. Not only is English football involved in that list, but clubs from elsewhere in Europe and a country that has become a significant disruptor in the transfer marketplace over the last couple of years. Here’s our top 5 countdown.
5. Mo Salah
Along with being in constant contention to be one of the Premiere League top goalscorers year after year, Mohamed Salah of Liverpool is also one of the highest-paid players in the world of football. Salah earned over £28 million in salary at Liverpool for the 2022/23 season in England’s top flight. While he has been bounced from the top five on the list of the highest salaries in football in the 2023/24 season, Salah has still commanded a massive figure.
Salah has rewarded Liverpool for making him one of the highest-paid players in English football with plenty of goals. Salah tallied 19 goals and 12 assists during the 2022/23 campaign. While that was tied for Salah’s lowest goal tally in a season since before his massive 2017/18 season, that is more a testament to how great he has been since joining Liverpool.
As a member of Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar was the fourth-highest-paid footballer in the world. In the 2022/23 season, the Brazilian was paid a £45 million salary by PSG, a club you will see often in this list. Since then, Neymar has only seen his salary increase as he has become a part of the new era of top-tier footballers taking the massive funds that the Saudi Pro League has thrown at them.
Neymar is now the highest-paid footballer in the sport’s history, making a salary of £240 million as a member of Al Hilal. Since then, Neymar has suffered a torn ACL while playing for the Brazilian national team. However, after rehabilitating that injury, he will likely be a part of Al Hilal’s plans again and make much money for it.
3. Lionel Messi
As a member of Paris Saint-Germain in the 2022/23 Ligue 1 season, Lionel Messi made even more than his teammate Neymar. The Argentinean World Cup winner earned over £53 million pounds as a member of PSG that season. He also received considerable time off after leading his country to World Cup glory. He has seen a difference in his pay in the season that followed his last in Paris, though his move dropped him down the list of the highest-paid footballers.
Messi moved from PSG to Inter Miami of Major League Soccer in the United States. He is the highest-paid player in MLS history, making $20.4 million per year to try and lead the South Florida squad to the first trophies in their history. Messi’s monetary considerations outside of his salary are much more significant, though, as he can take advantage of all the financial opportunities the United States offers.
2. Kylian Mbappe
The third PSG player to make the list of highest-paid footballers for the 2022/23 season is Kylian Mbappe. The Frenchman nearly led his team to the World Cup this season and also received a ton of time off from the club following his trip to the final for the French. Mbappe is also the first player mentioned in this list not to switch clubs since the 2022/23 campaign, as he opted to stay with PSG.
Mbappe was offered over £900,000,000 to agree to play in the Saudi Pro League, but he opted not to take part in negotiations to leave PSG. From a pure footballing perspective, this was a great move, as Mbappe continues to dazzle in one of the best leagues on the planet. But from a financial standpoint, Mbappe missed the chance to become the highest-paid player in football history.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Topping the list of the highest-paid footballers of the 2022/23 season was Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo made the first high-profile move into the Saudi Pro League, moving to Saudi club Al-Nassr after a poor stint at Manchester United at the beginning of the season. That move gave Ronaldo a salary of £173 million yearly, the highest salary ever.
For Ronaldo, there were questions about whether moving to Saudi Arabia was right or if he had more gas in the tank to play in the best leagues in the world. No matter what the opinions are about that, Ronaldo paved the way for many of his fellow footballers to get paid a lot of money. Since his move to Al-Nassr, Ronaldo has been joined in Saudi Arabia by players like N’Golo Kante, Neymar, and Karim Benzema.
The highest-paid footballers in the world reside in Saudi Arabia at this time; the question will be whether or not that changes anytime soon. The quality of the Saudi Pro League is not nearly as high as in leagues around Europe and South America. However, as long as the cheques are clearing, some of the biggest-name players on the planet may continue to play there.