The question as to whether or not athletes in general and soccer players in particular, should be earning the kind of money they’re earning is more vibrant then ever these days, with clubs paying their players incredible amounts of money each year.
The comparison to other sports is also very relative. A gymnast will train all his life, miss out on a lot of his younger years only to be able to handle a world class performance, but he will still not win as much in his lifetime as one of the highest earning soccer players makes in a year. But that’s the market’s call and there’s no “fair” in sales share.
Getting back to our topic, it’s somewhat difficult to judge exactly how much a player makes simply from his club salary, because many wage details are private, due to obvious reasons. As a club manager, you want to create complete harmony in your team and with all of them knowing that player gets paid twice as much as the rest, won’t help you out with that.
The highest earning soccer players can also be affected by having their salaries publicly available, because at every less than bright performance, they’ll be confronted with a “My God! He really should have played better for the kind of money he’s making” type of exclamation from fans, media and fellow players.
A soccer player’s income also comes from several other sources than simply his wage. For example, the best ever soccer players always made more money from endorsements and ads than their wages; take a look at David Beckham if you don’t believe me.
Other contractual bonuses will also earn them a fair amount. For example, many strikers that are confident in their ability to play regularly and score will have contract bonuses for each goal, assist or for a total number of goals at the end of the season, while agreeing for a lower wage cutout.
However, considering all of the above, it would be logical to say that the highest earning soccer players are also the ones with the highest wages. A club will want to keep a player that brings in incredible amounts of money through endorsements and merchandise sale, so they will offer him a high salary. According to Forbes Magazine, here are the top 3 earners:
Ronaldinho ($ 29.5 million, salary + endorsement deals) – one of the most famous and nonconformist personas in soccer, Ronaldinho has become the trademark of playing soccer as a game, not as a business. His constant smile while playing and his tricks made him one of the most popular figures today, despite the fact that he’s not as handsome and clean-cut as Beckham or Kaka. Ronaldinho is also widely considered one of the best ever soccer players, despite the fact that he still has many years to play for FC Barcelona, or his future clubs.
David Beckham ($ 29.1 million, salary + endorsement deals) – no presentation required, Beckham is more than just a soccer players for close to a decade now. His recent move to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid for an impressive transfer fee was well worth it, since American finance analysts agreed that the transfer would soon turn to profit, as Beckham shirt sales and other endorsements would soon earn the club their money back.
Ronaldo ($ 23.4 million, salary + endorsement deals) – the ex-phenomenon, the chunky Brazilian who impressed the World with his speed and goal-hungry attitude is not at the peak of his game anymore, although his move to Milan seems to have revived him somewhat. Despite his declining form, Ronaldo remains one of the central figures in today’s soccer, as he has an established name and image for over a decade.