The Highest Paid Soccer Stars In The World
Soccer is a sport so universally loved billions of people both play and watch it, but the sport's best leagues are found in Europe. Much like America's National Basketball Association and National Football League, playing in the European soccer leagues- particularly Spain's La Liga and England's Premier League- is deemed the pinnacle because of the caliber of players they attract.
However, world-class players also grace other leagues, such as France's Ligue 1 and Germany's Bundesliga, which means that as well as broadcasting some of the finest soccer talents on their shores, they also have hefty wage bills that would put certain NBA and NFL salaries to shame. With that in mind, we've decided to list the highest paid players in the men's game.
Please note that this is not an assessment of overall wealth, but of yearly earnings from a yearly period. The list is no particular order.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo- $108m
Aside from pop superstar Taylor Swift, Cristiano Ronaldo boasts more social media followers than any other public figure, and while many in America may not know who he is, the rest of the world sure does. He's a leader of men and a talent no other active soccer player, barring the magisterial might of the Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi, has been able to match.
Scouted by the legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson following Manchester United's loss against Ronaldo's first professional team Sporting Lisbon in a pre-season friendly, an 18-year-old Ronaldo ran rings around accomplished full-back Gary Neville, and it was that impressive display that persuaded Ferguson to pay £12m to bring him to Manchester.
Initially castigated by teammates for not trying hard enough, Cristiano would soon dedicate every waking hour to being the best player in the world, and he soon morphed from a skinny teenager into a brawny winger more adept with the physicality that playing in England's top division required.
More importantly, his mindset changed, and in his final season in Manchester, he scored 42 goals to finish a career in England which included a Champions League trophy and three Premier League titles. Such impressive accolades caught Real Madrid's attention, a club who he would win four Champions League trophies with before transferring over to Seria A champions Juventus following 9 record-breaking years at the Bernabéu.
2. Lionel Messi- $111m
Barcelona's leading talisman has gone on to win the coveted Ballon d'Or accolade on five separate occasions and is always compared to his rival above. However, there is a strong case to suggest that Messi is a more naturally gifted player than Ronaldo, with his small frame lending itself perfectly for a game characterized by individual tricky and tight ball control.
Of course, Ronaldo's accolades and trophies speak for themselves; as do Messi's. As well as winning five Ballon d'Or awards, Messi holds the record for the most goals scored in La Liga history, goals scored in a La Liga season (50) and also possesses the highest number of La Liga assists. Add his ever-burgeoning cabinet of team trophies, which include nine La Ligas, four Champions League trophies and six Spanish Cups, and you begin to understand and appreciate the freakish talent this man possesses.
3. Ramires- $13.2m
The 31-year-old Brazilian player made a name for himself at Chelsea, where he was part of the famous 2012 team that defied all odds to win the Champions League after overcoming the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in a compelling year for the team.
Scoring a sensational lob at the Camp Nou in the second leg of the semi-final, Ramires also enjoyed a stellar career with the Brazilian national team. Today, Ramires cashed in on his successful European career by making a move to China, where he currently earns $13.2m a-year playing for Jiangsu Suning.
4. Luiz Suarez- $26.9m
The Uruguayan striker may divide opinion following a controversial string of incidents, which have included biting an opponent's ear, but few- not even Real Madrid fans- would deny his world-class quality since making the move from Premier League giants Liverpool to La Liga titans Barcelona.
Famed for his pacey runs across the six-yard box and superb link-up play with former teammate Neymar and current partner in crime, Lionel Messi, Suarez's understanding of the game and his prolific goalscoring scoring record (he reached 100 goals for Barcelona in only his third season) makes him one of the best out-and-out strikers in world soccer.
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