The world’s highest paid footballers

You’ve seen the headlines, “Fabio Juan Cinco to earn $8 million a week” and so on. The question is, which footballer has amased the largest sum of wealth over the years? Let’s find out in this list of the world’s highest paid footballers.

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo ($80 million)

Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club Real Madrid C.F. and is the captain for the Portugal national team.

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Cristiano Ronaldo kisses another award

The Portugal and Real Madrid star was voted the sport’s most valuable player in the world in 2013 for the second time in his career after scoring 69 goals in 59 club and country competitions. Real Madrid rewarded him with a record 5-year contract worth more than $200 million.

In May 2014, he went on to help the team win its tenth Champions League title. His commercially good looks have landed him mega sponsorships, like his recent deal with Tag Heuer and a personal brand of underwear labeled CR7 on top of his long-term Nike deal.

#2 Lionel Messi ($64.7 million)

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Leo Messi

Second on our list of highest paid footballers is Lionel “Leo” Messi. Leo, as he is affectionately known, is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club FC Barcelona and is the captain for the Argentina national team.

Messi finished as runner up in the 2013 and 2014 Ballon d’Or after winning it a record four consecutive years. Sponsors like Adidas, who launched his signature shoe last year, and Turkish Airlines, who paired him with NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, have invested heavily in Barcelona’s most prolific goal scorer.

In turn, so has the Spanish tax authority, who investigated him and his father for image rights tax evasion and ordered him to pay $6.5 million. In May, he signed his 7th contract in 11 years which will pay him $50 million a year pre-tax and extend his stay at Camp Nou until 2019.

#3 Zlatan Ibrahimović ($40.4 million)

Zlatan Ibrahimović is a Swedish professional footballer who plays as a striker for French club Paris Saint-Germain and the Swedish national team for which he is captain.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic

For the second year in a row, the Swedish striker ended his season with Paris Saint-Germain as Ligue 1’s top scorer with 26 goals, won player of the year honors, and led his club to another league title. His latest extension signed in September 2013 has him locked up until 2016.

Despite scoring two goals in a playoff against Portugal in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick, Sweden lost and failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. He made up for the lack of sponsorships typically signed ahead of that competition with the hype surrounding a commercial for fellow Swede, Volvo.

In the elaborate movie-like production that received 4.7 million hits on YouTube, he does semi-naked pull-ups, dives into a freezing lake, and hunts to a rendition of the Swedish national anthem.

#4 Gareth Bale ($36.4 million)

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Gareth Bale

Gareth Frank Bale is a Welsh footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Wales national team, as a winger. Bale began his professional career at Southampton, playing at left back and earning acclaim as a free kick specialist.

Real Madrid spent $118 million to sign the 24-year old Welshman from English Premier League Tottenham Hotspur. It was the second largest transfer of the year after Neymar’s move to Barca. His parents, as co-directors with him of a holding company, made $3 million from the 6-year deal which pays him up to $456,000 in weekly wages.

He hopes to make more with his signature heart hand gesture, named the “Eleven of Hearts,” which he trademarked to use on clothes and footwear. As his country failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, he is the only Real Madrid player not going to the tournament.

Instead he will make around $2 million in Asia doing promotional work. When not on the pitch, Bale will be in front of the camera for BT Sport doing commentary as part of a 3-year deal he signed with the broadcaster.

#Radamel Falcao ($35.4 million)

Radamel Falcao is a Colombian footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester United on loan from AS Monaco, and the Colombia national team.

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Falcao

After his prolific scoring tear at Atletico Madrid in which he scored 34 goals in 41 caps for the club, the Colombian striker nicknamed ‘El Tigre’ (The Tiger) left Spain’s La Liga for France. The 28-year old struck a 5-year deal that doubled his salary with AS Monaco, bankrolled by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.

Falcao justified the move to the club saying his heart had been with it since his idol Thierry Henry had played there. Also like his formal idol, he picked up Gillette as a sponsor, fronting a campaign airing in his homeland.

He is currently seeing out a season-loan at Manchester United, and is number 5 on our list of highest paid footballers.