The 14 best-paid footballers in the world 2020

COVID-19 may have brought financial turmoil and widespread pay cuts to our game, but elite footballers remain some of the wealthiest athletes on the planet.

This year’s Forbes ranking of the 100 top earners in sport includes 14 footballers, as earnings for the best-paid athletes dropped for the first time since 2016.

The figures include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2019 and June 1, 2020, but the full-year salary is counted for players who have contracts running to the end of the 2019/20 season.

14. Sergio Ramos - $21.8m (£16.5m)

The Real Madrid skipper raked in more than £16m last season, largely through his bumper contract at the Bernabeu.

Ramos earned around £14m through salary and winnings and another £2.2m from endorsements, as the 34-year-old has sponsorship deals with Nike and Belgian-Brazilian drinks company AB InBev.

13. Gareth Bale - $25.2m (£19m)

No wonder the golf-mad Welshman is happy to stay where he is. And no wonder Real Madrid want to get rid of a player who has long been out of their plans.

Bale, whose deal at Real runs until 2022, earned £14.6m in salary and £4.1m from endorsements last year.

12. Alexis Sanchez - $25.6m (£19.3m)

Sanchez spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Inter, and Manchester United eventually agreed to let him leave on a free transfer to clinch a permanent deal with the Italian side.

The Chilean continued to earn massive wages while out on loan, taking in £18.6m over the last year from his salary and £0.7m from endorsements.

11. David De Gea - $25.7m (£19.4m)

The Spaniard became the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world when he signed a new contract with United last summer, which saw him take home £17.2m in salary payments.

De Gea’s sponsorship deals with Adidas and Pepsi also helped him earn a further £2.2m from endorsements.

10. Antoine Griezmann - $26.7m (£20.2m)

The France forward left Atletico Madrid last summer to pen a five-year contract with Barcelona, and his new terms earned him £16m last year.

Griezmann also brought in £4.2m from endorsements and has long-term sponsorship deals with Puma and Huawei.

9. Oscar ($27.5m - £20.8m)

Oscar’s move to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG raised eyebrows in 2017, with the creative midfielder departing Chelsea in his prime after lifting two Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge.

According to Forbes, the Brazilian more than quadrupled his weekly take-home pay by heading to the Far East, although new salary cap rules mean he won’t be able to renew his current salary, which earned him £19.5m over the last year.

8. Paul Pogba - $28.5m (£21.5m)

Life hasn’t always been easy for Pogba at Manchester United since he made his return from Juventus in 2016, but his bank balance certainly isn’t struggling. 

The Frenchman earning £17.4m from his salary and another £4.1m from endorsements last year.

7. Mesut Ozil - $28.7m (£21.7m)

Arsenal fans - look away now. Ozil didn’t exactly shine on the pitch for the Gunners in 2019/20, scoring one Premier League goal in 18 appearances, but he continues to rake in a massive salary.

His terms in north London, which run out next summer, earned him £17.5m last year, with another £4.2m coming in from endorsements.

6. Andres Iniesta - $29.6m (£22.4m)

The Spanish maestro ended a 22-year spell at Barcelona to join Japanese side Vissel Kobe in 2018 on a lucrative three-year deal that earned him £20.1m in 2019/20.

Iniesta brought in another £2.3m from endorsements, including Japanese footwear company Asics, while his winery has now been producing for a decade.

5. Kylian Mbappe - $33.8m (£25.5m)

The World Cup-winning PSG forward earned £15.7m from salary and £9.8m from endorsements in 2019/20.

Still just 21, Mbappe has another two years left to run on his current deal in Paris and last year Nike released his first Mercurial shoe in December.

4. Mohamed Salah - $35.1m (£26.5m)

Salah signed a new five-year deal at Liverpool in 2018, and made £17.5m from his contract over the last year.

The Egyptian is the face of Adidas’ ‘Adicolor’ sportswear line, and earned £9m from endorsements that also include Electronic Arts, Vodafone-USD and DHL.

3. Neymar - $95.5m (£72.2m)

The Brazilian’s lucrative five-year contract in Paris has another two years left to run, and earned him £53.3m over the last year.

Football’s most expensive player ever also brought in another £18.9m through his wide range of endorsements that includes Red Bull, Beats and Gillette.

2. Lionel Messi - $104m (£78.7m)

Messi may not be overjoyed at Barcelona’s current state, but the Argentine great is at least being handsomely rewarded for his astonishing individual efforts.

The 33-year-old’s salary earnings last year came to £54.4m, while endorsements – he has sponsorship deals with Adidas, Gatorade, Mastercard, Pepsi and Huawei – were worth another £24.2m.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo - $105m (£79.4m)

The Portuguese superstar is an iconic figure in sport, the most followed athlete on social media with more than 200 million Instagram followers, and Juventus’ pin-up star.

He actually took a pay cut to go to Italy, but don’t feel too sorry for him; Ronaldo’s wages earned him £45.4m last year, and a range of sponsorship deals, from Nike to Unilever and Herbalife, brought in a whopping £34m.

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