Football is one of the most popular sports in the world and it is no surprise that footballers are one of the richest people on this planet. These footballers have not only succeeded on the pitch, but they have been shrewd enough to invest wisely and thrive off the pitch as well.
Be it commercial endorsements, new business ventures or image rights, football players have a number of avenues to build their fortunes. However, there are some surprises on this list as well. Gareth Bale and Neymar both do not make the top 10, while for a change Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi do not top the list.
Without much ado, lets find out the top 10 footballers based on net worth (Source – celebritynetworth.com)
#10 Pele – $100 million
One of the greatest footballers of all time, if not the greatest, Pele is number 10 on this list and he is worth a whopping $100 million. A true legend of the game, Pele made the most of his stupendous success on the pitch having had plenty of commercial interests after his retirement from the game.
Pele has written several autobiographies, starred in documentary films, and composed musical pieces, including the soundtrack for the film Pelé in 1977. He is still one of the most recognisable faces in the world of football and he even owns a very successful television company in his native Brazil.
Although Pele is now 75, he has still managed to be among the richest football players in the world thanks to his shrewd commercial investments.
#9 Eden Hazard – $100 million
Eden Hazard might not have had the best of seasons for Chelsea this year, but he still remains one of the most marketable and valuable footballers in the world. Hazard has a net worth of $100 million and along with the $15 million salary he pockets every year playing for Chelsea, he has amassed quite a bit of wealth at the young age of 25.
Among Hazard’s most lucrative deals is his deals with US sports giants Nike. Also, Hazard has seen his stock rise thanks to consistent performances for Chelsea in the last few years even finishing as PFA Player of the year in 2015.
Although the Belgian might not have been at his best this season, it has not affected his market value too much with top clubs like Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain still chasing after his signature.
Hazard’s fortune is only set to increase in the coming years.
#8 Kaka – $105 million
The last person other than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or, Kaka was once the costliest transfer on the planet when he moved to Real Madrid from AC Milan. Kaka was one of the most loved footballers in the world and he is still the third most followed footballer on social media.
The Brazilian superstar was best known for his time at AC Milan where he cemented his place as one of the greatest players of this generation. Kaka has played for some of the best clubs in the world and earned a high salary at the likes of AC Milan and Real Madrid.
He also made a highly lucrative move to MLS side Orlando City. By signing for Orlando City, Kaká became the highest-paid player in MLS history, with a base salary of US$6.6 million per year, and with a guaranteed compensation of $7.2 million per year.
He has also been part of several high profile commercial endorsements such as Adidas which has seen him become one of the richest footballers in the world.
#7 Wayne Rooney – $145 million
The Manchester United footballer is one of the richest sportsmen in the world with a net worth of $145 million and a salary of $26 million. Lucrative endorsement deals with Nike and a bumper new contract which has made him the third highest paid footballer in the world .
Having comfortably been outshone by less fancied players like Jamie Vardy, Odion Ighalo and even his own teammate Anthony Martial, Rooney has looked jaded and slightly off the pace this season. Once the first name on the team sheet, fans have been very vocal about their disapproval of their captain’s form and some sections of the crowd even called for him to be dropped.
However, Rooney has arguably been England’s greatest player of this generation and new Manchester United manager Mourinho will be looking to revitalise the ageing Manchester United talisman’s career.
#6 Ronaldo Nazario - $150 million
Ronaldo Nazario de Lima is one of the few footballers to have played for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan and still be universally loved by all the fans. A Brazilian legend and a multiple Ballon d'Or winner, Ronaldo amassed quite a bit of wealth during his footballing career playing for top clubs across Europe.
He has also taken part in many lucrative endorsement deals with his deal with sportswear giants Nike being his most profitable one. Ronaldo is still linked with Nike and he also has plenty of other business interests as well.
Ronaldo was the co-owner of A1 team Brazil, along with motorsport legend Emerson Fittalpadi. Ronaldo also co-owns the sports marketing company 9INE, with his friend, mixed martial artist Anderson Silva, one of his famous clients.
The Brazil legend also owns a minority stake in Fort Lauderdale Strikers which plays in the North American Soccer league.
#5 Zlatan Ibrahimovic – $165 million
A player who has his own hashtag, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a name which threatens to become bigger than the sport itself on many occasions. The mercurial Swedish striker has played for almost all the top clubs in Europe, having won league titles with all of them.
He has represented the likes of Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG and he recently signed a highly lucrative contract with Premier League giants Manchester United.
The name Zlatan was trademarked in May 2003 , which meant that he received exclusive rights to the name of products such as clothing and sporting goods.He is under contract with Nike like other major footballers.
Ibrahimovic is also invloved in his own vitamin water company as well. With Zlatan set to earn an eye-watering $25 million at Manchester United this season, he is well on his way to rising higher on this list.
#4 Dave Whelan – $210 million
A former Blackburn Rovers and Crew Alexandra full-back, Dave Whelan is one of the very few footballers known more for his skills in business rather than his skills on the football pitch.
Whelan is the owner of former Premier League club Wigan Atheltic. He is also the owner of DW stadium, the stadium in which Wigan Atheltic and Wigan Warriors (Rugby team) play their matches.
After a decent playing career, Whelan first cut his teeth into marketing when he opened Whelan stores which was taken over for a huge amount of money. He later took over JJB sports and renamed it to DW sports which earned him a fortune and made him one of the richest footballers in the world.
Dave Whelan is the only former footballer to have owned a club which has played in the Premier League.
#3 Lionel Messi – $280 million
The only footballer ever to win the Ballon d’Or five times, Lionel Messi is an absolute phenomenon. The diminutive Argentine has been Barcelona’s main man since 2008 and has put in some spell bounding performances in the Champions League. With a market value of €120 million, Lionel Messi is the most valuable player in the world currently.
Although Messi shocked the world by announcing his retirement from international football, it is not set to affect him financially as he earns a cool £275,000/week after tax from Barcelona.
Messi earns more than $20 million a year from sponsors including Adidas, Audemars Piguet, PepsiCo, Gillette,Turkish Airlines and Electronic Arts. Adidas released a limited edition commemorative Messi shoe after Messi broke Barcelona’s all-time scoring record in March and it sold out within an hour in the U.S.
Last year, Messi also portrayed the role of Iron Man in Samsung ad campaigns to promote Avengers: Age of Ultron. He may not be as flamboyant as Cristiano Ronaldo, but his on-field performances and his quiet lifestyle make him trustworthy and a highly marketable figure.
#2 Cristiano Ronaldo – $320 million
Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest paid sportsman in the world this year and it probably comes as a surprise that the Real Madrid superstar does not top the list. He is the world’s highest paid player and he has a string of high-profile commercial endorsements as well.
Ronaldo earns nearly $53M plus bonuses in a year at Real Madrid. The $40 million Ronaldo earned from his sponsors, is more than any other footballer in the World, is due to his Nike deal which has provision for bonuses based on his performance.
His income from endorsements has risen steadily with the addition of deals with watchmaker Tag Heuer and Emirates Airlines. He is also the world's most popular athlete, with 112 million fans on Facebook and 43.8 million Twitter followers. He has his own underwear and shirt line called CR7 as well.
With Ronaldo showing no signs of slowing down, it looks like he will remain on this list for a long time to come.
#1 David Beckham – $450 million
Everyone in the world knows David Beckham. People who have never watched football in their life know David Beckham. Beckham is as synonymous with England as fish and chips and is one of the most recognisable sports athletes in the world.
Beckham was a very accomplished footballer as well and he has represented some of the world’s most prestigious clubs like Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan and PSG. With his good looks and charismatic persona, Beckham is the king of the endorsement world having deals with Adidas, H&M and Armani among numerous others.
On 5 February 2014, MLS announced that Beckham had exercised his option to buy a MLS expansion team for $25 million, which he had received as part of the contract he signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. His Miami team is currently looking for a stadium and could start playing as early as next season.
A champion on and off the field, David Beckham is the footballer with the highest net worth in the world. Let us now take a look at some honourable mentions and how these footballers compare to the richest people in the world
Mathieu Flamini kept the secret of his business venture a secret, but a biochemical company he founded along with his partner Granata, GF Biochemicals seem to have found an alternative fuel source to Petrol. Flamini’s company is the only company which produces industrial-level standards of the wood fuel and his value could soon rise up to an unbelievable $20 billion making him one of the richest people in the world.
Let us now take a look at footballers ranked from 11th to 15th in terms of net worth
#11 Philipp Lahm – $100 million
#12 Raul Gonzalez – $100 million
#13 Samuel Eto’o – $95 million
#14 Andres Iniesta – $90 million
#15 Didier Drogba – $90 million
Comparing these footballers to the world’s richest people, we see that only Flamini has a realistic chance of competing with them in the future.
These are the 5 richest people in the world:
#1 Bill Gates – $76 billion
#2 Carlos Slim – $72 billion
#3 Amancio Ortega – $67 billion
#4 Warren Buffet – $60 billion
#5 Jeff Bezos – $47 billion
The world’s highest worth footballer David Beckham is nowhere near them, but there is no denying the fact that footballer are some of the best-paid people in the world.