In addition to Ronaldo and Messi, many of soccer’s other icons in the game right now easily make the list of richest soccer players ever. Neymar and Zlatan Ibrahimovic also have undeniable star power, commanding lucrative salaries and endorsement deals, which have boosted their estimated net worths well over $100 million.
While we are including former professional soccer stars in our list, perhaps the greatest soccer player in history didn’t make the cut. The net worth of Pele, the iconic all-time great from Brazil, has been estimated at a $100 million — and every entry in our list of the top 10 richest soccer players of all time has a net worth over $100 million.
So who are the 10 richest soccer stars ever? Although Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been the sport’s two highest-paid players since 2014, celebrity athlete David Beckham, now retired, topped the list for three years before that. Other retired soccer players have also amassed significant enough wealth to rank in the top 10 as well. Some, like the English former pro footballer and Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan, became phenomenally successful businessmen, while others, like Brazilian stars Kaká and Ronaldo (Nazario), still have plenty of earnings from their recent careers.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – Net Worth $450 Million
Without a doubt one of the all-time soccer greats, Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular athlete in the world on social media, with over 150 million followers on Instagram alone.
When still only 18, Ronaldo joined Manchester United, one of the biggest professional soccer clubs in England, where he quickly rose to international fame. When Ronaldo transferred to global powerhouse Real Madrid in 2009, the $132 million fee made him the most expensive soccer player in history at the time. The Portuguese star spent nine years with Real Madrid, winning a slew of individual awards and leading the team to several trophy seasons. Last summer, Ronaldo shocked the sporting world by moving to Italian club Juventus in a $140 million transfer.
Today, Ronaldo makes $60 million per season in salary and winnings. What’s more, Cristiano Ronaldo earns more money from endorsements than any other soccer star, raking in $47 million during the 2017-2018 season. He is the beneficiary of a lifetime contract with Nike, which is reportedly worth more than $1 billion. Ronaldo has an array of other deals, including Herbalife, EA Sports, and American Tourister. The 33-year old Ronaldo has also developed his own CR7 branded line of products, which includes everything from shoes, underwear, and fragrances to hotels, gyms, and restaurants.
2. David Beckham – Net Worth $450 Million
David Beckham, the former English soccer star and well-known celebrity, has been busy since retiring in 2013. Beckham had a decorated 21-year career, playing for teams all across the world, including powerhouses like Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain. He made over 100 appearances for the English national team, and served as its captain during the 2006 World Cup. From 2007 until 2012, Beckham was the highest-paid player in Major League Soccer after he signed a contract to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy, earning $6.5 million a year.
Off the field, Beckham gained the spotlight after his marriage to fashion designer and former Spice Girl Victoria Adams, a.k.a. Posh Spice. He became a popular model and spokesperson, representing the likes of Pepsi, Calvin Klein, Adidas, Gillette, and Vodafone. Combined with lucrative salaries, this made David Beckham the highest-paid soccer player in the world for many years before the Ronaldo–Messi era. More recently, Beckham launched his long-planned Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami, which is set to play its first season in 2020.
3. Lionel Messi – Net Worth $400 Million
Another superstar who will go down in the history books as one of the best ever, the Argentine magician Lionel Messi was the world’s second highest-paid athlete – behind boxer Floyd Mayweather – in 2018. For the first time, Messi narrowly out-earned his rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, bringing home a total of $111 million last season to make him the world’s highest-paid soccer player last season.
Messi made a whopping $84 million from annual salary and bonuses during the 2017-2018 season at Barcelona, the Spanish team he has played for his entire career. A large chunk of his $27 million in endorsements last year stems from a lucrative lifetime deal with Adidas. Other Lionel Messi sponsors include Pepsi, Gatorade, Qatar-based telecom company Ooredoo, and Chinese dairy brand Mengniu. Messi even has his own theme park in Nanjing, China: The Messi Experience Park is slated to open in 2020.