Top 10 richest footballers in the world 2023

Richest footballers in the world

With over 5 billion spectators engaging the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar, football is the pick of the innumerable bunch sports has to offer. While "the beautiful game" is merely a pastime for many, others have not only made a livelihood but also amassed a fortune to become the richest footballers in the world.

With some earning their wealth through endorsement deals and investments in addition to their salary, this article ranks the world's wealthiest soccer players across various countries and leagues.

While gambling using some of the world's best football prediction sites is a tried and tested method to get rich in soccer, it is beggars belief to think the financial peaks mentioned in this article are attainable.

Constantly updated as players' net worth fluctuates over time, the list of the world's wealthiest footballers includes:

1. Faiq Bolkiah

With an estimated net worth of approximately $20 billion, Faiq Bolkiah is the richest footballer of all time. Being an heir of the royal family of Brunei, his fortune is derived from the country's enormous oil reserves.

Brunei, a small, oil-rich nation on the island of Southeast Asia's Borneo, and one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita has Faiq's uncle and one of the world's wealthiest individuals, Hassanal Bolkiah, as its Sultan. 

Faiq Bolkiah has been able to use his family's fortune to pursue a career in professional football and become the richest footballer in the world. His family is well-known for lavish spending on luxury products and real estate.

2. Mathieu Flamini

Boasting a career with several prominent football clubs, including Arsenal, AC Milan, and Marseille, Mathieu Flamini is the second-richest footballer in the world. Despite earning substantial compensation and incentives as a player and presumably generating significant income from endorsements and sponsorship agreements, Flamini's fortune is not solely derived from his career as a footballer.

Flamini set the groundwork for becoming one of the richest footballers in the world in 2008 by co-founding GFBiochemicals with his business associate Pasquale Granata. 

GFBiochemicals is a company that specialises in the production of levulinic acid, a renewable chemical used in pharmaceuticals, food, and cosmetics, among other applications.

GFBiochemicals has invested significantly in research and development to introduce levulinic acid to market as a potential replacement for petrochemicals.

Flamini's company is the world's first mass- manufacturer of levulinic acid.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo, the first team sports athlete to generate over US$ 1 billion in career earnings (before taxation), is the third richest footballer in the world. 

Throughout his tenure, the Portuguese legend has earned millions of dollars in salary, compensation, and endorsement agreements having played for some of the world's most prestigious clubs, including Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus.

Ronaldo made headlines in 2016 when he signed a $1 billion lifetime contract with Nike, becoming the third athlete after NBA stars Michael Jordan and LeBron James to sign such an agreement with the company.

Away from the major divisions, Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-paid athlete in history, as his contract with Saudi club Al Nasr guarantees him a $215 million annual salary.

In addition to being one of the world's richest footballers, Ronaldo is also one of the most marketable athletes in the world having generated millions of dollars in additional income through lucrative endorsement agreements with companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Tag Heuer. 

His investments in several commercial enterprises, including his own clothing line, fragrance brand, and hotel chain, have also contributed to his status as one of the world's richest footballers.

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most followed individuals across social media platforms, with over 600 million followers. This has led to additional endorsement agreements and income opportunities, with the football legend earning a reported $2.44 million per sponsored post on Instagram, the highest amount on the platform.

4. Lionel Messi

Widely regarded as the greatest football player of all time, extraordinary abilities on the field, numerous endorsements, and sponsorships positions him as the fourth richest footballer in the world.

Throughout his career, the Argentine has won numerous titles and awards, including seven Ballon d'Or awards, football's most prestigious individual award, and a World Cup, the globe's most prestigious team award.

Messi is one of the world's richest footballers due to his lucrative endorsement agreements with Adidas, Pepsi, and Huawei, among others. In addition, he has appeared in advertisements for brands such as Gillette, Tata Motors, and Mastercard, which have earned him millions of dollars.

Messi's football club contracts, in addition to his revenues from endorsements, have been extremely lucrative. In 2017, he inked a contract worth over $600 million with FC Barcelona, making him one of the world's highest-paid athletes.

According to Forbes, he was 2022's highest-paid athlete after signing a two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) reportedly valued over $41 million per year.

Following his first World Cup triumph in 2022, Lionel Messi broke the benchmark for the most liked social media post in history. The legend of Barcelona has three of the five most popular Instagram posts of all time.

5. David Beckham

With immense success and renown both on and off the pitch, David Beckham is the fifth richest footballer in the world. The Englishman enjoyed a glistering career playing for premier clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Milan, PSG, and Los Angeles Galaxy.

Beckham was one of the highest-paid footballers of all time due to his talent and success on the pitch, which earned him lucrative contracts and endorsements.

David Beckham is one of the most marketable athletes in the world due to his appealing appearance and refined charisma, and he has enjoyed endorsement agreements with top brands such as Adidas, Armani, H&M, and Pepsi.

His marriage to Victoria, a former Spice Girl, has offered him both fame and a deeper connection to the fashion industry, as the designer has her own line.

Being one of the richest footballers in the world, Beckham owns his own brand of fragrance and has collaborated with multiple companies to introduce a variety of products, from whisky to eyewear.

Beckham is a shrewd businessman who has invested in a variety of football ventures, including Inter Miami FC, a football academy in London, and Salford City FC.

In addition, he has a partnership with the global sports and entertainment agency Global Brands Group for the development and management of his brand and commercial interests.

Over the years, Beckham has invested in numerous properties, including luxury residences in London, Los Angeles, and Miami. He has also partnered with a number of property developers to initiate lucrative new ventures, solidifying his position as one of the world's richest footballers.

6. Dave Whelan

David Whelan, an accomplished merchant and entrepreneur who made his fortune in the sports merchandising sector, is the sixth richest footballer in the world. Before venturing into entrepreneurship, Whelan played football for Blackburn Rovers and Crewe Alexandra in the 1950s and 1960s, until an injury cut short his career.

In the 1970s, after resigning from football, Whelan opened a chain of sports stores called JJB Sports. The company expanded swiftly and became one of the major sports retailers in the United Kingdom, with hundreds of outlets.

Whelan reportedly sold his stake in JJB Sports for £190 million in 2007, just prior to the company's financial difficulties and 2012 administration.

Whelan's status as one of the richest footballers in the world is further attributable to his ownership of several other enterprises, including a chain of health centres and a property development company.

7. Neymar

One of soccer's most gifted players of all time, Brazil's Neymar is the seventh richest footballer in the world. In 2017, he moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record transfer fee of €222 million, reportedly increasing his annual compensation to €30 million net.

Since then, he has inked multiple contract extensions with PSG, which has increased his revenues and made him one of the world's richest footballers.

Neymar has lucrative endorsement agreements with a number of brands, including Nike, Red Bull, and Beats by Dre. Forbes estimated that Neymar earned approximately $20 million in endorsements alone in 2021.

Neymar has also bolstered his reputation as one of the world's richest footballers by investing in various business ventures, including NR Sports—a company that manages the image of the Brazilian as well as that of other athletes, including Olympic gold medalist Thiago Braz—and a restaurant chain called "Neymar Jr. Steakhouse."

8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the ninth richest footballer in the world as a result of his extremely successful career playing for Ajax, Barcelona, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and Los Angeles Galaxy, among others.

The Swede has won numerous titles, honours, and accolades over the years, which has helped him become one of the finest footballers of his generation.

Ibrahimovic is also well-known for his business enterprises, which include his own clothing line, fragrances, and investments in a number of companies.

In addition to being a highly sought-after brand ambassador, he has endorsement agreements with Nike, Volvo, and Samsung.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic became a co-owner of Swedish club Hammarby in 2019, acquiring a stake in the Anschutz Entertainment Group Sweden (AEG), which is also the primary investor in the Los Angeles Galaxy.

9. Ronaldo Nazário

Former Barcelona, Real Madrid, and AC Milan player Ronaldo Luz Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, and widely regarded as one of the finest players of all time, is the ninth richest footballer in the world. 

Throughout his successful pacesetting career, Ronaldo earned a considerable income from contracts, sponsorships, and endorsement agreements and was one of the highest-paid soccer players during his playing days.

After retiring from football, Ronaldo established a number of successful businesses, including a sports marketing company and a chain of gyms in Brazil. He also invests in real estate and owns substantial shares of Real Valladolid, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and Cruzeiro.

Ronaldo is also the proprietor of the agency 9ine Sports & Entertainment, which Neymar emerged from.

10. Alexandre Pato

Former Milan, Corinthians, Chelsea, and Tianjin Quanjian striker Alexandre Pato, renowned for his extraordinary on-field abilities and goal-scoring ability, is the eleventh richest footballer in the world. 

During his tenure as a footballer, Pato earned a substantial sum of money, both through salary and endorsement agreements. During his stint at AC Milan, he reportedly earned approximately $6 million per year and also had endorsement agreements with Nike and Pepsi.

Pato has invested in various commercial enterprises, including real estate and technology startups, since his retirement from football. His marriage to the accomplished actress and model Rebeca Abravanel may have contributed to his overall affluence and reputation as one of the world's richest footballers.