Of the 10 biggest earners in world football over the last 12 months, we have two players from Manchester City (Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure), two from Real Madrid (Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo) and one from each of the following: Galatasaray (Didier Drogba), Santos (Neymar), Chelsea (Fernando Torres), Manchester United (Wayne Rooney), Barcelona (Lionel Messi) and Paris Saint-Germain (David Beckham).
Cutting it across leagues, the Premier League has four players in the top 10, followed by the Spanish La Liga with three, while one hails from Turkey, one from Brazil and the other from the French league. When we’re talking nationalities, two are from the Ivory Coast, two are Brazilians, two are from Argentina, two are English, leaving us another from Spain and one from Portugal.
Didier Drogba – $17.8 Million
A weird season for Drogba, who began playing for Shanghai Shenhua in China, signing a two and a half year deal that should have been paying him $300,000 a week. Instead, he stayed less than six months before returning to European football, helping Galatasaray reach the Champions League quarterfinals and hopefully win the league title, earning a sign-on fee of €4 million per season plus basic wage of €4 million per season.
Kaka – $19.5 Million
Despite being nothing more than an afterthought for Jose Mourinho, Kaka is still one of the more popular, and better-paid, footballers on the planet, earning enough money from Adidas & Pepsi off the field, his impressive salary from Real (Who can’t seem to get rid of him) make life on the bench for Los Blancos a little bit more bearable.
Neymar – $19.5 Million
When you wonder why Neymar isn’t pushing to leave Santos and finally join a European team, you realize that Brazilian football has changed, and a star in the magnitude of Neymar can make the same kind of money he’d make while playing in Spain, England or Italy. With Nike, Konami, Panasonic, Red Bull, Santander, Unilver and Volkswagen as his sponsors, there really isn’t any reason to complain.
Fernando Torres – $20.2 Million
Being the most expensive player in the history of the Premier League makes expectations a bit too big for Torres, who shines from time to time between long goal droughts. He has scored 20 goals this season in all competitions, but it hasn’t gotten the critics off his back, while the money from his huge salary and deals with Nike and Pepsi keeps coming in.
Yaya Toure – $20.2 Million
Yaya Toure isn’t exactly a sponsorship machine, having only one major endorsement deal with Puma, but his salary with Manchester City is the highest in the Premier League according to reports. His recent contract signing ties him up with the club through 2017 and is worth up to $20 million a year in salary and bonus, stretching until 2017.
Wayne Rooney – $20.3 Million
Despite being the biggest star of English football, Wayne Rooney isn’t exactly a sponsors dream because of his behavior at times and the bad example he often gives others with off-the-field incidents and on-again-off-again troubles with his fitness. He still makes more money than almost anyone in the kingdom through football, also enjoying a huge deal with Nike and Harper Collins for publishing My Decade In The Premier League.
Sergio Aguero – $20.8 Million
Enjoying money from Puma and Pepsi, Sergio Aguero hasn’t completed two seasons with Manchester City but is likely to be getting a new 5-season extension very soon, as Manchester City hopes it keeps him from being tempted to join Real Madrid.
Lionel Messi – $40.3 Million
Adidas, Pepsi, EA Sports, Head & Shoulders, Herbalife, Turkish Airlines, Dolce & Gabana. Those are the major names on the sponsor list of the best footballer in the world, who recently signed a contract extension with Barcelona that keeps him with the club until 2018, paying him up to $21.2 million a year and make him the highest earner on-the-pitch.
Cristiano Ronaldo – $43.5 Million
Cristiano Ronaldo’s sponsors include Nike, Castrol, Clear Shampoo, Mobitti, Konami and Banco Espirito Santo, giving him about 50% of his total earnings. His recent contract negotiations with Real Madrid are stalling because they’re arguing over his image rights. Ronaldo wants to break the status quo with the team, usually taking half, while Ronaldo wants it to be a 60-40 split in his favor.
David Beckham – $50.6 Million
When you’re David Beckham, you can afford to give away your salary from PSG. He makes more than $44 million off of sponsors - Adidas, Breitling, Coty, H&M, Sainsbury and more, showing there’s no need to be a player at the height of his ability and power to cash in on your profession.