Soccer is a global sport, played by elite athletes and watched by billions of fans around the globe. As the most popular sport in the world, have you ever wondered how much soccer players get paid?
Today, we’ll cover the finances involved in soccer and discover how much professionals can earn in the modern game. Some of the topics we’ll investigate include:
- European player salaries
- Premier League player salaries
- The highest-paid players in the world
- Female soccer players’ salaries
- Other high-paying sports
The range of soccer salaries worldwide is huge, from the top European to the Women’s – we get into how much players earn exactly.
How Much Do Soccer Players Get Paid?
Professional soccer players can get paid tens of millions of dollars every year.
Although the average salary varies depending on the player’s level in the professional pyramid, the league they play in, the team they play for, their position, age, and abilities, professional soccer players are very well paid compared to athletes from other major sports.
In general, players in Europe’s biggest leagues are paid the most.
The average salaries in the Brazilian, Mexican, and United States leagues don’t even break into the top 5 of Europe’s highest-paying divisions.
In the MLS, the highest-paid player is Carlos Vela, who earns $6.3 million per year playing for Los Angeles FC.
However, the average base salary for a senior roster, a non-designated player in the league, is $398,725. While this is a lot of money, it is significantly less than Vela’s whopper wage.
The average Premier League player earns approximately 10 times more than their MLS counterparts.
It is estimated that the average salary is around $3.9 million per year.
Throughout this article, we’ll look at player pay in more detail, investigating the most lucrative leagues to play in and the highest-paid soccer stars in the world.
How Much Do Soccer Players Make in Europe?
European soccer leagues are home to some of the most well-paid players in the world, with top earners like Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Cristiano Ronaldo making up to $78 million from their teams.
Their annual income can inflate even further when you factor in sponsorship, image rights, advertising deals, and endorsements.
Athletes often earn more for their off-the-field exploits than for actually playing soccer.
Although Cristiano Ronaldo’s salary from Manchester United is less than Messi’s and Neymar’s, his soccer-related earnings are higher.
Ronaldo’s affiliation with major brands such as Nike, Armani, Tag Heuer, Herbalife, Pokerstars, and Castrol has made him the first soccer player (and team-sport athlete) to earn over $1 billion in pre-tax career earnings.
His endorsement deals account for close to half of his soccer-based income.
Top 5 paying leagues in Europe:
|England||Premier League||$3.9 million|
|Spain||La Liga||$2.75 million|
|Italy||Serie A||$2.23 million|
|France||Ligue 1||$1.54 million|
How Much Do Soccer Players Make in the Premier League?
Players in the Premier League make more money than any other in the world, with the average salary being approximately $3.9 million.
The reason Premier League players are paid so well is simply a case of supply and demand. Decades of popularity, loyal fans, a distinct style of play, talented players, and success in international tournaments made English football a popular brand.
As popularity in the English domestic league grew, so too did its value. The English Football League First Division rebranded in 1992, beginning the FA Premier League era.
This transition was backed by a major broadcasting deal with Sky, which bought exclusive rights to distribute Premier League games for approximately $400 million over 5 years.
With a newly established commercial independence from other football associations, the Premier League was licensed to negotiate its broadcasting and sponsorships for the future. This opened the door to even bigger deals and more revenue for Premier League teams.
As Premier League teams earned the most revenue from TV broadcasting and sponsorships, they could attract some of the most talented soccer superstars from around the globe.
Today, the domestic broadcasting rights for the Premier League were sold for close to $6.5 billion to Sky, BT Sport, BBC Sport, and Amazon Prime Sport.
The latest deal for US broadcasting rights for the Premier League was sold to NBC in a deal worth over $2.7 billion over the next 6 years.
Although the pandemic has created financial difficulties for many teams, the value of the league plus these extraordinary broadcasting deals means that the excessively high premier league salaries are here to stay.
Average Salary in the Premier League By Team
|Team||Avg. Salary Per Player|
|Manchester City||$8.73 million|
|Manchester United||$7.66 million|
|Leicester City||$4.19 million|
|West Ham||$3.78 million|
|Crystal Palace||$3.61 million|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||$2.75 million|
|Newcastle United||$2.61 million|
|Aston Villa||$2.46 million|
People often wonder how much soccer players make in a month, week, day, or even hour.
We’ve decided to break down Premier League pay to give a better scope of how much players truly earn.
How Much Do Soccer Players Make in a Month?
- Average monthly salary: $325,000
- Average monthly salary for the highest-paid team: $727,500
- Average monthly salary for the lowest-paid team: $103,000
How Much Do Soccer Players Make in a Week?
- Average weekly salary: $75,000
- Average weekly salary for the highest-paid team: $167,885
- Average weekly salary for the lowest-paid team: $23,846
How Much Do Soccer Players Make in an Hour?
- Average hourly pay: $446.42
- Average hourly pay for the highest-paid team: $999.29
- Average hourly pay for the lowest paid team: $141.92
It’s important to note that this is their earnings every hour of the day, not their work hours.
Soccer players don’t work regular hours, so it’s next to impossible to know what they make per hour.
How Much Do Soccer Players Make Per Game?
Soccer players typically aren’t paid per game.
They receive a fixed weekly or monthly salary regardless of whether they play a game.
However, some contractual agreements mean players may receive bonuses for every appearance. Substitute appearance often demands a lower sum. The total amount is added to a player’s monthly pay.
Some players have contract clauses that allow them to earn bonuses when they reach certain appearance targets.
For example, they may have a contractual bonus for every 100 appearances.
Do Soccer Players Get Paid For Goals?
Performance-based bonuses mean that some players are entitled to extra pay when they score a certain number of goals. Specific contract details determine the exact bonus amount, but it is unusual for players to be financially rewarded for every goal.
Structuring goal bonuses in this way help players set targets for the season. This can help performances, particularly if a striker is in poor form.
As goal contributions are now seen as very important, modern attackers and midfielders are likelier to have bonus targets for goals and assists. This also stops them from being overly selfish in attacking positions.
Defenders and goalkeepers may be entitled to bonus payments for reaching a certain number of clean sheets depending on their deals.
All players generally have contract clauses that earn them bonuses for winning a major trophy. They may even be entitled to a pay raise the following season. Likewise, players will likely have to take pay cuts if a team is relegated.
Although the precise details of goal bonuses aren’t released to the general republic, the Mirror reported a breakdown of Roberto Firmino’s goal bonus agreement for Liverpool throughout the 2018/19 season.
On top of his $4.76 million annual salary, Firmino earned the following bonuses:
- First 5 goals of the season: $33,600 per goal
- Goals 6 to 10: $60,500 per goal
- Goals 11 to 15: $87,500 per goal
- Goals 15+: $114,300 per goal
While Firmino is a top-tier striker, he’s nowhere near one of the most prolific attackers in the league. One might speculate that some of the more deadly forwards could earn even more for goal contributions every season.
Get Firmino’s number 9, 2021/22 Liverpool shirt here.
Who Is The Highest-Paid Soccer Player?
According to the Forbes rich list, Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-paid soccer player in the world.
He reportedly earns approximately $125 million per year between his Manchester United salary, sponsorships, and endorsements.
As mentioned earlier, despite these jaw-dropping earnings, the Portuguese star’s salary is less than some of the top earners around Europe. While United pays Ronaldo a pretty penny, his endorsements are the real difference in overall pay.
Let’s take a more detailed look at soccer’s highest-paid players. The following information is how much these players earn pre-tax and excluding bonuses.
What Is Ronaldo’s Salary?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s base salary for Manchester United is approximately $29 million per season.
It breaks down to:
- $2.42 million per month
- $557,692 per week
What Is Messi’s Salary?
Lionel Messi has a base wage of $68.6 million per season at PSG.
This breaks down to:
- $5.72 million per month
- $1.32 million per week
What Is Neymar’s Salary?
Neymar earns a hefty salary of $43.47 million per season, alongside his PSG teammate, Messi.
This breaks down to:
- $3.62 million per month
- $836,000 per week
Highest-Paid Soccer Players 2021
The following table details the highest salaries in Europe for the 2021/22 season. These figures don’t include potential sponsorship earnings, endorsements, or other business ventures.
|Player||Team||Avg. Salary Per Year|
|Lionel Messi||PSG||$68.6 million|
|Luis Suarez||Athletico Madrid||$41.2 million|
|Antoine Griezmann||Athletico Madrid (Barca)||$41.2 million|
|Gareth Bale||Real Madrid||$35.8 million|
|Kylian Mbappe||PSG||$29.4 million|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United||$29 million|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Manchester City||$27.6 million|
|David De Gea||Manchester United||$26.8 million|
|Robert Lewandowski||Bayern Munich||$25.1 million|
Despite the Premier League being the wealthiest league overall, it’s interesting that the top 6 salaries in Europe are outside of England.
There appears to be a far greater disparity between the salaries of elite teams in France, Spain, and Germany than in England.
How Much Do Female Soccer Players Make?
Female soccer players make significantly less than their male counterparts, with the highest-paid female player, Carli Lloyd (now retired), earning approximately $518,000 per season.
In the Women’s Super League (WSL) in England, the average salary is estimated to be around $40,000 annually. The highest-paid player in the league is Chelsea’s Samantha Kerr, who makes around $270,000.
The United States National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has a salary cap. The minimum salary is $22,000 per season, and the maximum is $52,200. Franchises can supplement their players’ incomes with healthcare, housing, and transport allowances.
Each team can also top up players’ salaries from an allocated pot worth $400,000, meaning star players can earn even more.
While salary caps usually create more equality, the NWSL’s approach has been criticized for causing significant pay gaps between players.
Many female soccer players can earn significant revenue playing for their country. While it’s common for male players to donate earnings from their national teams to charity, this money is more valuable for female players because they are paid far less at the club level.
Reported earnings for professional female players often include club and international team earnings.
How Much Does Megan Rapinoe Make a Year?
Magin Rapinoe, one of the biggest stars in world soccer, makes around $447,000 per year from OL Reign and USA.
How Much Does Christen Press Make a Year?
Christen Press made the headlines recently for signing a 3-year deal for the new Franchise, Angel City FC, worth a reported $550,000.
This works out to be over $183,000 per season.
Speaking about her historic move, the LA native had this to say:
“For it to really be happening, to be able to bring professional soccer back to Los Angeles and to be a part of that team, is nothing but a dream come true. A dream that didn’t even feel possible for the majority of my career..”Christen Press, 2021
How Rich Is Alex Morgan?
Earning approximately $450,000 per season from Orlando Pride and the US national team, Alex Morgan has an estimated net worth of around $3 million.
What Is The Highest-Paying Sport?
American football and soccer top the list in terms of direct earnings from the sport.
Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys topped the Forbes 2021 list for on-the-field earnings, making an estimated $97.5 million throughout the year.
Although Ronaldo surpassed Messi as the highest-paid soccer player in 2021, Leo earned the most money for his on-the-field efforts, racking up a staggering $97 million.
The other highest-paying sports in 2021 were basketball, tennis, Formula 1 racing, and golf.