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Top 10 highest-paid football players in 2021

Ernest Sunday
By Ernest Sunday

Freelance sports writer with great passion for football, Academic content writer and Lifestyle Blogger

List of highest-paid soccer player in 2021, their annual salaries and endorsements

Full list of top highest-paid footballers in 2021

The Forbes magazine has again brought out the top highest-paid soccer players' list in the 2021 season after so many dramatic transfers in the 2021 football transfer window.

The highest-paid soccer players' list features high profile footballers representing some of the world's biggest football clubs, predominantly European clubs.

The world's most famous athlete Cristiano Ronaldo has topped former Barcelona's superstar Lionel Messi in the list of 2021 highest paid soccer players after a surprising return to Manchester United.

In the 2021 season, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo switched clubs, with Messi headed to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 and Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford in the Premier League.

Continue to read down to get the complete list of the notable football players who have made the Forbes list of the 2021 highest-paid soccer players.

Below is the complete list of Forbes' highest-paid football players in 2021, their yearly earnings and endorsements.

Top 10 highest-paid football players in 2021

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo - $125 million
  2. Lionel Messi - $110 million
  3. Neymar - $95 million
  4. Kylian Mbappé - $43 million
  5. Mohamed Salah - $41 million
  6. Robert Lewandowski - $35 million
  7. Andrés Iniesta - $35 million
  8. Paul Pogba - $34 million
  9. Gareth Bale - $32 million
  10. Eden Hazard $29 million

1.0 Cristiano Ronaldo - $125 million

Cristiano Ronaldo made a good at Old Trafford scoring vital goals for United

After a late, dramatic return to Manchester United, famous striker Cristiano Ronaldo has topped Lionel Messi on the Forbes' list of highest-paid soccer players in 2021.

His return to Old Trafford has become one of the most talked-about football transfers in football history, with the most popular football heading ever Welcome Back Home.

Ronaldo, known as one of the most followed individuals on social media, has gained more followers following his return to the English Premier League and is now going to pocket a yearly earning of $125m.

Cristiano Ronaldo's $125m yearly earnings come before taxes, with $70m coming from his salaries and others from his endorsements with different companies, including Nike, Clear, Herbalife and many others.

His other earnings come from his CR7 branded company that deals in many products like perfumes, underwear, eyewear, hotels, gyms and his newly opened Insparya clinic in Marbella, Malaga, Spain.

Ronaldo has already scored four goals in three games for Manchester United to mark an excellent start to his second return to his former club.

2.0 Lionel Messi - $110 million

Lionel Messi is still finding it difficult to adapt to PSG's style of playing

2020 highest-paid soccer player Lionel Messi has dropped from the first position of the highest-paid soccer players in 2021, overtaken by his rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

In the 2021 football transfer window, Lionel Messi made a shocking transfer to Paris Saint-Germain after a failed contract negotiation with his former club Barcelona.

Messi left Barcelona for the first time after 26 years of glory at Camp Nou, winning many trophies and awards. Lionel Messi's move to Paris Saint-Germain has contributed to losing the top position of the highest-paid soccer players in the world in 2021.

His move to Ligue made the 34-year-old superstar see his salary cut to a lower amount after he was about to continue to become the highest-paid player on the pitch based on salaries terms discussed with Barcelona before his departure.

Messi yearly salary in Paris Saint-Germain will be $70m, while his endorsements with different companies are $35m, including Adidas, Pepsi, watchmaker Jacobs & Co. and his latest deal with Budweiser.

Lionel Messi has made a slow start following his move to a new club for the first time. He failed to score in his three appearances with Paris Saint-Germain.

3.0 Neymar - $95 million

Neymar has once again reunited with Messi and he will be hoping to win the Champions League with him in PSG

Neymar is the second Paris Saint-Germain's player in the Forbes' list of highest-paid soccer players in 2021. In May 2021, Neymar signed a new four-year contract with PSG; he is now the most highest-paid player in the club

Neymar will currently earn a yearly salary of $75 m in PSG, a vast amount that has helped him become the third highest-paid soccer player in 2021. Aside from Neymar's $75m salaries on the pitch also earns over $20 m from endorsements.

Earlier in 2021, Neymar left his former endorsement with Nike over a sexual assault allegation. The super striker later signed a new endorsement with shoe production company Puma which helped maintain his yearly earning.

Neymar's other endorsement deals generating a vast income for him, including Epic Games, Flutter Entertainment, Qatar Airways, Red Bull and Triller.

Neymar is the third-highest followed athlete on social media; the 29-year-old player's social media platform generates a huge income that has lifted him to become one of the highest-paid soccer players in the world.

In the 2021 season, Neymar has united with his former teammate Lionel Messi forming one of the best-attacking trios alongside French talented young player Kylian Mbappé.

4.0 Kylian Mbappé - $43 million

Mbappe has scored many amazing goals for PSG since joining the club from Monaco

Each year Kylian Mbappé continue to develop into a better player with significant records and success every year. Kylian Mbappé is regarded as the most talented young player in football currently.

Due to his magical talent, Mbappé has earned much money in the past three to four years. He is now listed among the top earners in the Forbes' list.

Mbappé is currently the fourth highest-paid soccer player in the Forbes' list of the top highest-paid soccer players in 2021.

The World Cup winner earns over $28 m in salaries at Le Parc des Princes and $15 million in endorsements. Mbappé's sponsors include Electronic Arts, Hublot and famous Nike.

Despite earning such colossal money, Kylian Mbappé only has one year left in his contract with Paris Saint-Germain, and it is still uncertain if he would sign a new contract with the club.

Real Madrid is understood to be interested in signing the 22-year-old attacker after an attempt to sign him on the last day of the transfer window. Signing a new contract would see Mbappé earn even more in the years to come.

Mbappé has made a fine start in the 2021 season scoring four goals in 8 appearances for PSG, and he will be hoping to do even better as time goes on.

5.0 Mohamed Salah - $41 million

Mohamed Salah is one of the best Premier League player recently

Since Mohamed Salah made his debut for Liverpool in the Premier League, he has been regarded as one of the best players in the Premier League and Europe.

Salah's stats for Liverpool have been incredible; he is regarded as one of the best football players in Liverpool's history. In the past years, he has scored many vital goals for his club.

Owning to his incredible talent, the Egyptian striker earns so much at Anfield. Salah is the highest-paid player in Liverpool with a yearly salary of $25 m. Aside from his salary, the super striker also earns over $16 m from endorsements, including Adidas, ExxonMobil and Pepsi

In the 2021 season, Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal in a 3-0 win against Leeds United.

Mohamed Salah only has two years contract at Anfield and might extend his contract with Liverpool as they are already negotiating a new deal.

6.0 Robert Lewandowski - $35 million

Lewandowski has been the best player in Bundesliga since moving to for over many years

Bayern Munich's striker Robert Lewandowski has again made it to Forbes' list of the top highest-paid soccer players in 2021. Lewandowski is one of the best strikers ever in football history.

His incredible stats over the years speaks for him. The Polish captain has scored many numbers of goals in the last few years and continues to claim the position of the best striker in the world currently.

The 33-year-old's contract with German Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich fetches him a substantial annual salary of $27 m, a contract that expires in 2023.

Lewandowski has been linked with transfers to many European top clubs in the past years, but that has never happened as he has always been one of Bayern's vital players.

Aside from Lewandowski's salary on the pitch, his off-pitch payment is also lucrative, which has helped him become one of the highest-paid players in 2021.

The 33-year-old striker earns $8m from different endorsements, including Nike, Huawei, Procter & Gamble and Head & Shoulders. He also earns some money from his RL9 clothing brand.

Most of Robert Lewandowski's records include most goals in a Bundesliga season 41, the first Bundesliga player to score in 13 straight home matches and the 19 goals that have kept him on Bayern Munich's score sheet since February 2020.

Lewandowski is currently the holder of 2021 European golden boots.

7.0 Andrés Iniesta - $35 million

Andres Iniesta has helped Visel Kobe win some trophies since moving to Japan from Barcelona

Former Barcelona's midfielder Andrés Iniesta is among the players that have made it to the Forbes' list of highest-paid football players in 2021. Andrés Iniesta, who left Barcelona after a successful career, joined Vissel Kobe in the Japanese league.

Iniesta's move to Japan has kept him among the highest-paid soccer players for years, earning an annual salary of $31m. Iniesta, who left Barcelona as a legend winning many trophies, is already in his fourth season at Vissel Kobe.

The 37-year-old Spanish midfielder also has some endorsements that earn him $4m yearly, including Asics and Mikakus.

8.0 Paul Pogba - $34 million

Paul Pogba celebrates their win in the 2021 Premier League

Manchester United's Paul Pogba continue to be on the Forbes' list of top highest-paid soccer in the world. The famous midfielder is regarded as one of the best Premier League players owning to his talent.

Pogba is one of the highest-paid players in Manchester United alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Goalkeeper David Dea Gea. The super talented midfielder earns an annual salary of $27m.

The 28-year-old France international is a huge celebrity off the field, and with his celebrity lifestyle, he has earned many endorsements that fetch a huge amount of money for him.

His yearly payments from endorsements are $7m, a very great amount that has helped him big wealth to become one of the highest-paid soccer footballers in 2021.

Pogba has only one year left in his contract with Manchester United, and there have been rumours linking him to a move away from England, with Juventus tipped to be his favourite destination.

In the 2021 transfer window, Manchester United has done a great job signing Jadon Sancho, Rafael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo. This signing might convince Pogba to sign a new contract with United as they already have quality players.

9.0 Gareth Bale - $32 million

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale is hoping to have a good season once again at Real Madrid under Ancelotti

Gareth Bale has experienced ups and downs in his last two years due to a misunderstanding between the striker and former Real Madrid's manager Zinedine Zidane.

In the 2019 season, Bale was degraded to a bench warmer by Zidane, who wanted him out of Real Madrid at all cost. He was made to watch every Real Madrid's match from the bench.

Bale started taking his career at Real Madrid unserious; the four-time Champions League winner was pictured playing and laughing from the stand while Real Madrid was losing a match.

In 2020 Bale was loaned to his former club Tottenham Hotspur where he had a good season. In Tottenham, he was used as a substitute occasionally, but his impact was a good one for the club. Bale, in 34 appearances for Tottenham, scored 16 goals.

The Welsh captain has now returned to Real Madrid under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. The manager has counted Bale as part of his plan and has assured Bale a playing time in Real Madrid.

Despite all the setbacks in the past seasons, Gareth Bale is one of the highest earners in Real Madrid; he earns a huge annual salary worth $26m.

Adding to his salary, Bale also receives a year payment of $6m from endorsement, including his endorsement with Adidas.

10.0 Eden Hazard $29 million

Eden Hazard has only scored five goals in three seasons for Real Madrid

Former Chelsea's captain Eden Hazard is the 10th highest-paid footballer among the top 10 highest-paid football players in 2021. Despite losing form since moving to Real Madrid from Chelsea, he still earns a huge salary that has kept him on the list.

Since moving to Real Madrid in La Liga, Hazard has had difficulty adapting to La Liga. He has been hit severely by injuries that have reduced his performance since his debut in La Liga.

The 30-year-old Belgium captain earns an annual salary of $26m, a huge amount that has made him included in the list of highest-paid footballers in the world.

Hazard also earns over $3m off-field payment from endorsements, raising his annual salary to $29m.

With a new manager in Real Madrid, Hazard will now be fighting for an opportunity in Real Madrid to prove himself as he was bought as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.