Cristiano Ronaldo might no longer be an automatic first pick for Manchester United, but he remains one of the world’s highest-earning footballers.
The Portugal international returned to Old Trafford on a bumper contract in 2021, making him the top-paid player at Old Trafford. His salary dwarfs those of the Premier League’s best, even as the arrival of Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford has seen his starting opportunities limited.
Ronaldo also rakes in a huge amount in endorsement deals, with a number of off-field partnerships inflating the amount of money he takes home over the course of a year. That’s not enough to see him claim the top spot, though, with four Premier League players making a top 10 which also includes stars from three other leagues.
That’s all according to a top 10 list compiled by Sportico (via B/R Football), which has Antoine Griezmann in at 10th. The French international earns a reported $22m (£20.3m) in wages plus $5.5m in endorsements.
Griezmann’s own future remains in the balance, despite his form at international level paving the way for a spot in Les Bleus’ squad as they look to defend their World Cup title. The forward is on loan at Atletico Madrid from Barcelona, but his parent club is reportedly considering legal action over Atleti’s unorthodox use of him.
Just ahead of Griezmann in ninth is Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian is Manchester City’s highest earner, raking in $25.5m in 2022, but his $3.5m in endorsements are among the lowest on the list.
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Next is Raheem Sterling, who pips his former teammate De Bruyne to a podium spot among the Premier League representatives while sitting in eighth overall. Sterling had just a year remaining on his Manchester City contract when he left for Chelsea over the summer, signing a big-money deal with the Blues after completing a move worth £50m.
Just above Sterling, meanwhile, is the only player on the list who represents a non-European team. World Cup-winning midfielder Andres Iniesta left Barcelona for Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe in 2018, and his 2022 earnings sit at $23m in salary – just above Sterling’s $21.4m – plus $7m in endorsements.
Eden Hazard might have found himself in the top five with more endorsements. Instead, though, the Belgian is just above Iniesta on $31.3m, with $28.5m of the total coming from his Real Madrid salary as he attempts to revive his career after a tough couple of years in Spain.
Fifth place is taken by Mohamed Salah, who signed a new deal with Liverpool in the close-season. The Egyptian is now the highest earner in Reds history, though he still makes less in wages than City star De Bruyne and relies on a hefty $15m in endorsement money to make the top half of the list.
From there on up, though, there’s a huge gap. Indeed, all four players above Salah in the list make more than double his $39.5m total and then some.
In fourth is Neymar, with a $56m salary bolstered by endorsement deals worth more than Salah’s salary alone. And few will be surprised to learn the Brazilian is one of three Paris Saint-Germain men among the top four.
Fans of Ronaldo may be pleased to learn he’s pipped Lionel Messi, at least as far as this list is concerned. The Argentine has won more Ballons d’Or than Ronaldo, and won the award more recently, but sits $3m behind his great rival here.
Messi traded Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, shortly before Ronaldo himself was on the move to Man Utd. And, while the Copa America champion earns more than Ronaldo salary-wise, his endorsements are worth ‘only’ $48m to Ronaldo’s $60m.
Indeed, Ronaldo’s endorsements generate so much revenue that he has been able to make do with a lower salary than Neymar and still take second spot. However, he still falls short of top earner Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe, who doesn’t turn 24 until December, has a healthy $20m in endorsements after leading PSG to another title in 2022. However, his salary is the main event, with the France international ignoring interest from Real Madrid to sign a new deal which – according to the Sportico numbers – is worth a huge $105m.
“I am very happy to stay at PSG in France,” Mbappe said in May when committing his future to the club. “I always said Paris is my home, I hope we continue to play football and win trophies together.
“Thanks for everything. I hope that I will continue to do what I prefer to with you all… and win titles together! Thanks a lot.”
The bumper pay-packet is sure to help the World Cup winner, who joined PSG after reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League with Monaco. However, after falling short up to this point, a European title might be even sweeter than all that money.