Who are the world’s richest soccer players right now?
In every corner of the globe, soccer (association football) is no novelty.
A sport eagerly followed by over 3 billion fans, soccer stands gallantly as the world’s most popular sport.
That comes as no surprise, as the thrills, tension, and excitement that soccer brings are second to none.
The overwhelming attention soccer boast has made the sports a very lucrative venture.
A testament to this fact is the eye-popping and exorbitant salaries of top players in the sports.
Though other sports, majorly those based in North America, can equally brag about doling out exorbitant sums in salaries to players and athletes, football consistently overshadows such ones in fortune.
In recent years, footballers continue to top American magazine Forbes’ annual list of highest-paid athletes, a strong proof of how lucrative the sport is.
Thus in line with our commitment to keeping fans abreast with sports happenings, we present the top 20 list of richest soccer players in the world as of 2021.
It’s important to note that some of the players included in this list are retired, and their fortunes may not be entirely from salaries and bonuses earned from the sport.
The Richest Soccer Players in the World Right Now
20. Kylian Mbappe
Net Worth: $95 Million
French wonder boy Kylian Mbappe is widely seen in association football circles as a potential successor to soccer legends Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The exceptionally skillful player was instrumental to France’s 2018 FIFA World Cup win, a tournament in which he claimed the Best Young Player award for his performance.
Mbappe came to the limelight following his stellar performances in multiple seasons for Monaco.
Those performances saw him make a €180 million move to Ligue 1 giants, PSG.
Being a star player in the PSG squad, he has risen to be one of the top faces in the club’s quest for UEFA Champions League glory.
In less than eight years after he made his professional debut, Mbappé’s fortune has increased at a surprising rate.
In 2021, Kylian Mbappe’s net worth is an estimated $95 million, making him the 20th wealthiest soccer player in the world right now.
19. Raul Gonzalez Blanco
Net Worth: $100 Million
Now manager of La Liga giant, Real Madrid reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla, Raul spent most of his illustrious career with the Spanish club.
Raul began playing for Los Blancos in 1994 in the C team, and he rose to become one of the team’s leading stars.
He won three UEFA Champions League titles at the height of his career, six Laliga titles, four Supercopa de España titles, and a UEFA Super Cup.
Raul ranks as the club’s all-time second-highest goal scorer and the player with the most appearance in the club’s history.
After he departed from Real Madrid in 2010, Raul had a brief stint with Bundesliga’s side, Schalke 04, Qatar Star League’s, Al Sadd SC, before moving to the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), New York Cosmos.
As of 2021, Raul’s net worth is valued to be $100 million.
18. Philipp Lahm
Net Worth: $100 Million
A player with incredible leadership qualities, Phillip Lahm, now retired, played professionally from 2003 to 2017.
In his career, which spanned over a decade, Lahm rose from being a young reserve player to becoming one of the leading stars of his German national team and Bundesliga side, Bayern Munich.
Lahm also went on to captain both sides, to one of the most inspirational periods both teams had in the 2010s.
Phillip Lahm captained the German National team to 2014 World Cup glory.
He also led Bayern Munich to win the UEFA Champions League with a treble in 2013.
His contributions to both team’s success, precisely his solid defense and tactical tackles earned him the “Magic Dwarf” nickname.
Lahm is regarded as one of the best defenders the sport has ever seen.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, as of 2021, Philip Lahn’s net worth is valued at $100 million.
Net Worth: $100 Million
The name Pele in the world of sports carries so much respect that it’s akin to an elite figure.
And yes, Pele is an exceptional elite figure in the sports circle.
Regarded as one of the very best soccer players the world has ever seen, Pele ruled association football in the 20th century.
As young as age 17, Pele made his FIFA World Cup debut, which he won, setting the record of being the youngest World Cup winner in history.
He went on to win two more World Cups to set another record of being the only player to claim three World Cup titles.
Pele spent the majority of his club career with Brazilian club Santos, where he claimed numerous championships.
His antics on the pitch ranks him as the all-time highest goal scorer of the Brazilian national team and Santos.
One of football’s greatest ever, Pele, is credited with popularizing association football’s nickname, “The Beautiful Game.”
Pele’s net worth is currently estimated at $100 million.
16. Eden Hazard
Net Worth: $100 Million
In recent times, Belgian footballer and Real Madrid striker, Eden Hazard, have not been in the best form because of injuries.
That has further been compounded with him contracting the coronavirus since he made the about £140 million transfer to Madrid.
Though fans may be quick to point out his recent disappointing form, Hazard is a beast on the pitch in his best form.
The former Chelsea star, known for his dribbling skills, was one of the top stars who led Chelsea to Premier League glory in the 2014/15 and 2016/17 seasons.
In 2021, Eden Hazard’s net worth is approximately $100 million.
15. Zinedine Zidane
Net Worth: $120 Million
Both as a manager and player, Zinedine Zidane can boast of a glamorous career.
The Real Madrid boss played professional football for 17 years.
During those years, Zidane played for four teams, notably Serie A Juventus and La Liga’s Real Madrid.
In his career, Zidane won the UEFA Champions League twice, once with Juventus and once with Real Madrid.
He also claimed the league glories with both sides.
With the French national side, Zidane claimed the World Cup in 1998.
He also attempted to repeat his success in 2006, this time as captain.
However, at the 2006 World Cup Final against Italy, he was involved in his infamous head butt incident, which had him sent off from the pitch.
Following that, he retired from professional football.
As a manager, he led Los Blancos to three successive Champions League wins and two consecutive Club World Cup wins.
Zinedine Zidane’s net worth as of 2021 is approximately $120 million, thanks to his soccer antics.
14. Mesut Ozil
Net Worth: $120 Million
Among the world’s greatest midfielders, Mesut Ozil has created a solid reputation for his technical skills and brilliant assists.
The German player who is dubbed “the Assist King” is known for his finesse, an attribute that has seen him remain as one of the world’s top players.
He now plays for Turkish, Süper Lig, Fenerbahçe.
Özil had some of his best years in playing for top European clubs, notably Real Madrid and Arsenal.
At Real Madrid, his brilliant assists saw him lead the Spanish Football League in Assists for three successive seasons.
His move to EPL side, Arsenal, was a club record, which proved very valuable to the club.
He helped Arsenal end a 9-year trophy drought.
Mesut Ozil’s net worth of $120 million makes him the 14th richest soccer player in the world right now.
13. Jose Mourinho
Net Worth: $120 Million
A seasoned football manager and undoubtedly one of the best in the world, José Mourinho is brilliant.
Currently serving as the EPL team manager, Tottenham Hotspurs, Mourinho has coached multiple big clubs in Europe, where he has claimed numerous trophies.
No wonder he is one of the most decorated football managers in history.
The renowned football manager first came to the limelight in the early 2000s.
He led Primeira Liga club Porto to the Primeira Liga on two occasions.
He also helped them win the UEFA Cup, as well as the UEFA Champions League.
Following his success at Porto, he moved to EPL club Chelsea, where he achieved F.A. Cup, and League Cup glories.
After departing the EPL, Mourinho proved his onions with Serie A side AC Milan, where his remarkable coaching prowess led the club to become the first Serie A club to secure a European treble.
That feat earned him his first FIFA World Coach of the Year award.
Jose Mourinho’s net worth is currently estimated to be $120 million.
He is the first manager to pass the £1 billion mark on transfer fees.
12. Andres Iniesta
Net Worth: $120 Million
Though not playing in any big soccer leagues in the world, the brilliance of the Spanish star is unquestionable.
He is one of the best midfielders Barcelona has ever seen.
Iniesta began his career right from an early age at the renowned Barcelona football academy, La Masia.
He rose through the ranks of the academy to make his professional debut in 2002 for the club.
In the twenty-two years he spent playing professional football for Barcelona, Iniesta achieved several remarkable feats.
He won historic trebles on two occasions and a total of 35 trophies.
Iniesta’s success isn’t limited to club football.
He also achieved amazing feats as one of the top players in the Spanish national football team.
The highlight of his international football career was when he scored the winning goal to help Spain win the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Since 2018, Iniesta has been playing for the Japanese football club, Vissel Kobe.
Andres Iniesta’s net worth is approximately $120 million as of 2021.
11. Paul Pogba
Net Worth: $125 Million
French footballer Paul Pogba is no stranger to the harsh criticism of the press.
But those criticisms have made him one of the outstanding stars on the pitch.
He began making a name for himself after moving to Serie A’s side, Juventus, thanks to his unique prowess.
That prowess earned him the 2013 Golden Boy award and the Bravo award in 2014.
He proved instrumental to Juventus, 2015 UEFA Champions League final, which they lost.
In 2016, Pogba made a move to EPL side, Manchester United, on a then-world record transfer fee of €105 million.
His unique style of play proved valuable to France’s success at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Paul Pogba’s net worth is estimated to be $125 million, making him the 10th richest soccer player in the world right now.
10. Thierry Henry
Net Worth: $130 Million
A football legend with ever-green accomplishments, Thierry Henry, is indeed an inspirational soccer player.
Regarded as one of the best players of his time, Henry’s name was always on sports journals’ headlines in the 2000s.
In the first seven years of the 2000s, Henry was a dominant player in the Arsenal football squad, as he led the team to two league titles and the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final.
During his stint with Arsenal, he claimed the EPL Golden boot four times, and he remains the club’s all-time highest goal scorer.
Following his successful stint with Arsenal, Henry went on to join Barcelona.
He was an instrumental player in helping Barcelona claim their historic treble in the 2008/09 season.
Now retired, Henry now works as a football manager.
Thierry Henry’s net worth is currently estimated to be $130 million.
9. Gareth Bale
Net Worth: $145 Million
A top-rated star, Gareth Bale is widely known for his unique free-kick ability.
The Welsh footballer who plays for the Tottenham Hotspurs is on loan from Real Madrid.
While he was playing for Real Madrid, Gareth Bale was one of the brilliant strikers that formed the club’s massively dangerous attacking trio, dubbed BBC, which comprises Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benza, and Bale.
That attacking trio helped Real Madrid to three successive UEFA Champions League wins.
Bale’s football talents caught the interest of high-profile clubs after his amazing first seasons with Tottenham Hotspurs.
He claimed the PFA Young Player of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season, FWA Player of the Season.
Bale is also a six-time Welsh Player of the Year awardee.
Gareth Bale’s net worth is currently estimated to be $145 million, which ranks him as the 9th richest soccer player on the planet.
Net Worth: $160 Million
Nicknamed O Fenômeno (“The Phenomenon”), Ronaldo is indeed phenomenal, as he’s one of the greatest soccer players the world has ever seen.
Though retired, the star’s impact and success are still fresh in the minds of avid soccer fans.
The renowned soccer star played for multiple big names in European club football, including domestic rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona and AC Milan and Inter Milan.
At the age of 20, the football star claimed the prestigious FIFA World Player of the Year award, making him the youngest recipient of the award.
He went on to win the award two more times, and also the Ballon d’Or two times.
Though Ronaldo was a remarkable football player, UEFA Champions League glory eluded him, but he did make up for it by winning two FIFA World Cups.
Ronaldo’s net worth is approximately $160 million in 2021.
Though Ronaldo no longer an active player, he is actively involved in the football world.
He is the majority owner of the La Liga side, Real Valladolid.
7. Wayne Rooney
Net Worth: $170 Million
English football star, Wayne Rooney, is no stranger to football fans, as he has spent the majority of his playing career in one of the most popular football leagues in the world, the English Premier League.
Rooney, who plays as a forward, began his soccer career at Everton before moving on to Manchester United, two years after debuting for Everton, precisely 2004.
In the 14 seasons he spent at Manchester United, Rooney won 16 trophies and became one of just two players in EPL history to ever win the English Premier League, F.A. Cup, League Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Rooney supplements those achievements by being the club’s all-time highest goal scorer.
On the international football front, the four-time England Player of the Year led his country to three FIFA World Cups.
Rooney is England’s National Football side’s youngest goalscorer and the team’s all-time highest goal scorer.
Currently the manager of English Football League Championship club, Derby County, Wayne Rooney’s networth is approximately $170 million.
6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Net Worth: $190 Million
An aggressive footballer with unique abilities, Zlatan Ibrahimović, is undoubtedly one of the world’s best.
The Swedish football star has played for several top football clubs in the world.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic came to the attention of football fans while at Ajax in the early 2000s.
His antics with the club soon earned him a place with Juventus before he transferred to Inter Milan, where he claimed three successive Serie A titles.
His impressive form at Inter Milan earned him a transfer to Barcelona, which is one of the most expensive transfers in football history.
At Barcelona, Zlatan Ibrahimovic won the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, before moving back to Serie A.
His football prowess has seen him play for other top clubs, such as PSG, where he emerged as the club’s all-time highest goal scorer, Manchester United, and currently AC Milan.
He is the Swedish national football team’s all-time highest goal scorer.
As of 2021, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s net worth is estimated to be $190 million.
Net Worth: $200 Million
One of the world’s greatest soccer players, Brazilian sensation Neymar is an inspirational star in the sport with several astounding achievements.
The PSG forward began creating a name for himself at 17 while playing for the Brazilian football club Santos.
From 2003 until 2013, Neymar proved to be an integral part of the Brazilian football side, recording outstanding performances and leading the club to various tournament victories, such as the 2011 Copa Libertadores, Santos first in nearly half a century.
His performances with Santos earned him the South American Footballer of the Year on two occasions.
After moving to Laliga side, Barcelona, in 2023, he formed a very destructive attacking trio with fellow South American footballers Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
That trio led the side to win a continental trip in 2015, with Neymar finishing third in that year’s Ballon d’Or.
In 2017, Neymar secured a €222 million world-record transfer to Ligue 1 side, PSG, where he currently plays.
Alongside french wonder boy, Mbappé, Neymar continues to prove destructive to opponent teams’ defense.
Neymar has recorded fantastic success on the international front, such as his 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup win and Brazil’s first-ever Olympics football Gold, which Neymar led the team to, at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro summer Olympics.
He is the Brazilian national side’s all-time second-highest goal scorer.
Neymar’s net worth is currently valued at $200 million, making him the fifth richest soccer player in the world.
4. Dave Whelan
Net Worth: $210 Million
Dave Whelan’s name may not be widely known in football circles, but the former player currently ranks as one of the richest soccer players on the planet.
From 1956 to 1966, Dave Whelan played professionally for Blackburn Rovers F.C. and Crewe Alexandra.
However, his soccer career was not marked by impressive and astounding feats, like most individuals on this list.
After retiring from professional soccer, Whelan focused on business, building an impressive business empire, which is why he features so high on this list.
His venture into the business world began with Whelan Discount Stores’ establishment, which he sold to the British supermarket chain Morrison’s in 1978 for £1.5 million.
Since the successful sale of his Supermarket chain, Whelan has ventured into other businesses, such as the establishment of the fishing and sports store JJB Sports, which is based in Wigan, and the acquisition of D.W. Sports Fitness.
Whelan’s most prominent business venture was the acquisition of Football League Championship club Wigan Athletic in 1995.
He served as chairman of the club for about 20 years before handing affairs over to his grandson, who later sold the club to International Entertainment Corporation.
Dave Whelan’s net worth is currently valued at $210 million, making him the second richest retired soccer player ever.
3. David Beckham
Net Worth: $450 Million
An inspirational footballer of his era, David Beckham’s influence in the world at the height of his playing career was mind-blowing.
Beckham began his impressive football career at the age of 17 with EPL side Manchester United.
At United, Beckham proved instrumental to the club’s six league titles, two F.A. Cup and one UEFA Champions League wins.
He then went on to swell the ranks of a star-studded Real Madrid team, where he spent four seasons.
Beckham went on to win the La Liga championship with the club in his last season.
Following his four seasons stint with Real Madrid, Beckham made a highly publicized move to Major League Soccer club L. A. Galaxy before returning to Europe, where he played on loan for Serie A side AC Milan for two seasons.
Beckham called it quits on professional football after a brief stint with Ligue 1 team, PSG.
The iconic fashion mogul had several endorsement deals at the height of his career.
David Beckham’s net worth is estimated to be $450 million, which currently ranks him as the richest retired soccer player.
Beckham now has several business ventures, such as his American professional soccer club, Inter Miami C.F., where he served as president, and English League 2 club, Salford City F.C..
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Net Worth: $500 Million
In any conversation about the greatest soccer players of all time, the name Cristiano Ronaldo would always be mentioned.
This comes as no surprise as the Portuguese football star has created a solid reputation for himself, which is rivaled by only a few players and matched in current football history by his Argentine rival, Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo’s success has elevated him to a status in football; just a few players can boast of it.
His success in football has benefited him significantly financially.
Ronaldo has played for EPL side, Manchester United, La Liga side, Real Madrid, and currently, Serie A club, Juventus.
In all the teams he has played in, Ronaldo has achieved remarkable success, notable of which is his three successive UEFA Champions League win with Real Madrid.
In individual accomplishments, Ronaldo does not lack.
He has won the Ballon d’Or five times, making him one of just two players to have done this, and also claimed the European Golden Shoe four times, a record for a European player.
In international football, Ronaldo is equally successful.
The height of his success in the international scene was at the 2016 Euros, where he led his side to victory.
These accomplishments and success, has seen Ronaldo receive mouth-watering deals in contracts with clubs and endorsement deals with top brands, such as Nike, DAZN, Herbalife, and others.
Also, Ronaldo is the first football player to cross the $1 billion mark in pre-tax earning.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s net worth as of 2021 is approximately $500 million, making him the second richest soccer player on the planet.
1. Lionel Messi
Net Worth: $600 Million
A top candidate for the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) title, Lionel Messi‘s football prowess is unmatched.
One of the greatest footballers ever, Lionel Messi, continues to put up astounding and impressive performances, even when his team disappoints.
The Argentine superster who captain’s La Liga side Barcelona, where he has been playing professionally, since 2004, lay claims to several mind-blowing achievements in the sport.
The star player who began proving his worth as a highly talented player right from his debut season was instrumental to Barcelona’s first treble in 2009, before repeating the feat in 2015.
He is the all-time La Liga highest goal scorer, and has also led Barcelona to multiple league and domestic titles.
Messi has recorded amazing feats in individual laurels.
He has claimed six Ballon d’Or titles, the highest in history of world football.
On the international front, Lionel Messi has not seen much success for a player of his caliber, despite repeatedly making it to the final of top tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup.
He, however, is Argentina’s all-time highest goal scorer.
His influence and success have seen him penned incredibly financially rewarding deals in contracts and endorsement deals with notable brands, such as Adidas and Pepsi.
Lionel Messi’s net worth is approximately $600 million, which ranks him as the world’s richest soccer player in 2021.
Wrap Up on the Richest Soccer Players
The beautiful game of soccer is a highly lucrative venture.
This is because soccer remains the most popular team sport acros the globe.
No wonder even the threat of a pandemic could only stall but not eliminate the sport’s continuity.
The strains of the pandemic certainly impacted the fortunes of most athletes, and footballers were not excluded.
However, the fortunes of top soccer players have increased with the wealthiest, Lionel Messi’s fortune climbing up to $600 million in 2021.
Feel free to share your thoughts about this list in the comments below.