The world of professional soccer offers an alluring prospect for aspiring athletes, not only for the thrill of the game but also for the potential to earn substantial wealth. Footballers, especially those at the pinnacle of their careers, can rake in mind-boggling sums of money, making it a dream profession for many.
The desire to secure financial stability for life after retirement fuels the ambition to maximize earnings during their playing days. And that is without mentioning sponsorship income. For some players, like Lionel Messi, these are even reasons to join a club for a 'modest' salary. Let's also leave out the income from their business ventures. Several famous footballers are building business empires. Cristiano Ronaldo has opened five Pestana CR7-hotels in Madeira, Lisbon, Marrakech, Madrid, and New York. Ronaldo launched the hotel on Times Square on July 7th, 7-7 (2021) - his famous jersey number.
Regarding Messi, it's known that he has set up a private limited company in Silicon Valley. Team Messi focuses on high-tech sports equipment. Whether it will materialize remains to be seen, but the fact is that brands like CR7 and Messi are looking for ways to generate income even after their playing careers are over (and not fade into oblivion). Wealth has become their way of living.
The Quest for Wealth: Top-Earning Soccer Players 2023
As a profession that commands immense global attention and sponsorship deals, it comes as no surprise that professional soccer players have the potential to amass colossal fortunes. At the top of the earnings ladder, we find players who have moved to clubs in countries with staggering financial backing. Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema earn an astounding €200 million annually (net) while playing for Al Nassr and Al Ittihad, respectively. These Saudi Arabian clubs have emerged as financial powerhouses, luring global football superstars with astronomical salaries.
Following closely behind is N'Golo Kante, who also plies his trade at Al Ittihad, earning a staggering €100 million (net) annually. His defensive prowess and versatility have cemented his position as one of the world's top midfielders, leading to his extraordinary earning potential.
In Europe, the world's leading football talents continue to shine and attract hefty contracts. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), a French club, boasts two of the highest-earning players in the sport. Kylian Mbappé, the young French prodigy, earns a remarkable €72 million annually, while his Brazilian teammate annually rakes in an impressive €60 million per year.
Lionel Messi, arguably one of the greatest footballers of all time, surprised the world when he moved to Inter Miami. Despite the shift to a less prestigious league, Messi's legacy and popularity ensure a substantial yearly income of €50 million.
Representing the Netherlands and the only player from FC Barcelona on the top earners' list, Frenkie de Jong receives a handsome €37 million annually. His talent and versatility on the field have propelled him to the forefront of the modern game, making him an attractive asset for one of Europe's most iconic football clubs.
The Chinese Super League has also emerged as a destination for players seeking lucrative contracts. The Brazilian Oscar, who plies his trade for Shanghai SIPG, earns a remarkable €35 million yearly. The Senegalese center-back Kalidou Koulibaly, playing for Al Hilal, enjoys a net income of €35 million annually as well.
Finally, Real Madrid's midfield maestro, Toni Kroos, rounds up the list of ten best-paid players with a respectable €24 million yearly income.
By the way, this list may be outdated soon. Many clubs are seeking reinforcements and are willing to dig deep for talent. So don't be surprised if Tony Kroos falls outside the top 10 tomorrow.
Taxation: The Influence on Players' Earnings
While the earnings of these football superstars are staggering, it is essential to consider the impact of taxation on their take-home income. In Europe, countries levy significant taxes on high earners, including professional footballers. The tax rates vary depending on the country and income levels, often resulting in players paying a substantial portion of their earnings to the government.
In France, a player with an income above €152,000 is subject to a hefty 45% tax rate, while in Spain, earnings exceeding €300,000 are taxed at 47%. England imposes a 45% tax rate on income over £150,000. These high tax rates can substantially reduce the players' net earnings, making it crucial for them to consider the overall financial impact when choosing their next destination.
In contrast, Saudi Arabia imposes no income tax on players' earnings. This makes the country an attractive destination for footballers seeking to maximize their take-home income. Al Nassr and Al Ittihad, the Saudi Arabian clubs that have secured the services of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, respectively, benefit from this tax advantage, allowing them to offer jaw-dropping salaries.
The True Essence: Enriching the lives of millions of fans
The allure of being a professional soccer player lies not only in the love for the game but also in the potential to secure incredible wealth. The top earners in soccer, represented by an exclusive group of world-class players, earn mind-boggling sums annually. Aspiring players dream of reaching such heights to secure financial stability for life after retirement.
However, taxation plays a significant role in determining the players' actual earnings. The high tax rates in many European countries can significantly impact their take-home income, prompting some players to consider moves to countries with more favorable tax regimes, like Saudi Arabia.
In the end, while the financial aspect of soccer is a captivating narrative, it is essential to remember that the true essence of the sport lies in the passion, talent, and dedication displayed on the field, enriching the lives of millions of fans worldwide.