Skip to content

Survey: Ronaldo, Messi, Ibrahimovic among top five highest paid athletes in the world

Apr 15, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT

Will Ronaldo win his first-ever Champions League title with Real Madrid this season? AP

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are three of the world’s five highest paid athletes, according to a survey from ESPN The Magazine and SportingIntelligence, with boxer Floyd Mayweather and Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers claiming the other spots at the top of the annual list. With Wayne Rooney slotting in at 15th, four soccer players claim spots in the survey’s top 25, a ranking dominated by Major League Baseball and National Football League players.

Two Formula One drivers (Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton) and boxer Wladimir Klitschko join Mayweather ($73.5 million), the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant ($30.5 million), and the four soccer stars among the highest earners from football and baseball. Led by Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Zach Grienke ($28 million per year), nine Major League Baseball players make the list, while the $40 million Aaron Rodgers made in 2013 leads the NFL’s eight representatives in the magazine’s ranking.

According to the survey:

“Average Annual Pay” is calculated from base player salaries from current or most recently completed seasons from each sport. All totals exclude endorsements, performance bonuses, appearance fees and any other source of extra compensation.

There are a few caveats for those looking to draw too many conclusions from the list. For NFL players, the huge signing bonuses teams use to deal with the salary cap can skew an individual number. Aaron Rodgers’ actual annual salary is $22 million, but a $35 million signing bonus elevates his 2013 salary. In basketball, Kobe Bryant’s longevity and salaries under previous collective bargaining agreements mean he’s the only player that can break this list. Earnings for boxers only include base prize money and none of the earnings from pay-per-view sales, while the various tax considerations help obscure what soccer players make. In a sport where salary information is already difficult to verify, some players’ salaries (Ibrahimovic) is after tax; others’ are not.

Still, the task of collecting this information is a monumental one – an effort that stretched across 14 different professional leagues. The full results can be seen here and here, with soccer’s contributions to the product listed below:

HIGHEST PAID, ANNUAL SALARY
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – $50.2 million
3. Lionel Messi, Barcelona – $50.1 million
5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain – $35 million
15. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United – $26 million

HIGHEST PAYROLL, AVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY (TOTAL ANNUAL SALARY)
1. Manchester City, England – $8,109,912 ($202,747,812)
4. Real Madrid, Spain – $7,586,438 ($189,660,944)
5. Barcelona, Spain – $7,446,562 ($193,610,600)
7. Bayern Munich, Germany – $6,689,311 ($173,922,091)
8. Manchester United, England – $6,566,775 ($164,169,367)
10. Chelsea, England – $6,053,686 ($151,342,140)
11. Arsenal, England – $5,928,172 ($148,204,312)
18. Juventus, Italy – $5,336,821 ($149,431,100)
20. Liverpool, England – $5,171,351 ($129,283,779)
25. Roma, Italy – $4,937,720 ($123,443,000)

 

Latest Posts
  1. Jenkinson, Hangeland, Ferreyra all find new Premier League homes

    Aug 1, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

    Brede Hangeland AP

    West Ham, Crystal Palace and Newcastle have all added players for 2014/15, according to reports.

  2. New York City FC could be a proving ground for Man City youth

    Aug 1, 2014, 9:23 AM EDT

    NYCFC Lampard Soccer AP

    Would City’s best prospects playing in MLS be a boon for the league, or lend the league a minor league image it’s trying to escape?

  3. Liverpool set to land Sevilla, Atletico Madrid backs to boost defense

    Aug 1, 2014, 8:36 AM EDT

    Spain v Bolivia - International Friendly Getty Images

    Alberto Moreno of Sevilla is the key cog of the pair, appearing 40-plus times for Sevilla in its run across La Liga and the Europa League.

  4. Report: Red Bulls meet Ronaldinho’s reps; Reunion with Henry coming?

    Aug 1, 2014, 7:57 AM EDT

    Ronaldinho AP

    Brazilian outlet UOL says Ronaldinho could be on his way to Major League Soccer, as the Red Bulls up the ante in NY rivalry.

  5. MLS weekend preview: Conference leaders, surging Galaxy take to NBC, NBCSN

    Aug 1, 2014, 1:03 AM EDT

    graham_zusi Getty Images

    A nine-match weekend sees MLS return to NBC, with NBCSN set to broadcast games in Kansas City, San Francisco.

  6. José Mourinho insists Chelsea needs Fernando Torres

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT

    Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring a goal against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London Reuters

    Manager remains insistent the Spanish international will stay at Stamford Bridge.

  7. George John undergoes season-ending knee surgery

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT

    George John 3

    Successful procedure marks the end of John’s 2014 hopes.

  8. For Napoli, hairstyle part of Marouane Fellaini’s appeal

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:12 PM EDT

    Fellaini Getty Images

    De Laurentiis confirms the partenopei’s interest in the afro-laden star.

  9. Clarence Goodson set to miss eight more weeks

    Jul 31, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    clarence_goodson Getty Images

    Toe injury to sideline the U.S. international for an estimated 10 games.

  10. Second thing Brian Ching doesn’t like: NWSL cooling breaks

    Jul 31, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    Brian Ching 2

    No. 1: Eddie Johnson. No. 2: These new-fangled rules.

  11. Talented US youngsters sign for Spanish sides Sevilla, Espanyol

    Jul 31, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

    Sevilla

    Young Americans set to blaze trail in La Liga academies.

  12. Ignacio Piatti’s move to Montréal may cost him a place in Copa Libertadores’ final

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

    ignacio_perez_garcia AP

    San Lorenzo is in Copa’s finals, but Piatti is unlikely to join them.

  13. Can Stevan Jovetic, Scott Sinclair break into Manchester City’s lineup?

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    International Champions Cup 2014 - Manchester City v Liverpool Getty Images

    Two players who spent plenty of time on the sidelines last season are pushing to be integral parts of Manuel Pellegrini’s plans.

  14. Matías Pérez García announced, becomes third Designated Player in San Jose history

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

    san_jose_earthquakes_logo

    29-year-old Argentina arrives from Tigre, becoming the club’s third Designated Player of all-time.

  15. Is Everton’s new striker Romelu Lukaku worth $47 million?

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Romelu Lukaku

    Everton’s frugality gave way to necessity. Is Lukaku worth it the serious cash they splashed?

  16. A list of Manchester United-linked names to consider in silly season

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:21 PM EDT

    twitter.com/officialsslazio twitter.com/officialsslazio

    Remember when Marco Reus, Dries Mertens and Leighton Baines solidified Manchester United’s status in Europe? Us neither.

  17. Rhode Island man sues Cristiano Ronaldo over CR7 trademark

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT

    FBL-ESP-CUP-REALMADRID-ATLETICOMADRID Getty Images

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Christopher Renzi are looking horns over the CR7 trademark.

  18. Report: Ochoa to Malaga is on as Mexican goalkeeper replaces Caballero

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

    Guillermo Ochoa AP

    Guillermo Ochoa starred in the 2014 World Cup for Mexico, and now will try to fill Willy Caballero’s shoes at Malaga.

  19. Sierra Leone squad banned from traveling as Ebola virus spreads

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT

    Sierra Leone Getty Images

    As deadly virus continues to spread, the Seychelles refuse to let Sierra Leone travel for qualifier.

  20. Video: Pepe spits on Keita; Latter claims past racial slur

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

    Ashley Cole, Pepe AP

    Seydou Keita has left Barcelona, but being in a different league has not stopped the animosity between the AS Roma midfielder and Real Madrid’s Pepe.