A year characterised by more stringent spending (by even the world’s most affluent clubs), unexpected transfers and a sponsorship hangover from the titanic London 2012 Olympics and Euro 2012 tournaments, we weren’t sure what to expect from the the list of the world’s highest-paid footballers in 2012-2013.
As it happens, it’s a mix of big returns, a big debut and some seriously big money making it’s way into the deals of the three biggest players on the planet.
Read on to see who made the cut…
10. Didier Drogba (Galatasary / Ivory Coast) £11.6m
We’ve got unashamed amounts of love for ‘The Drog’, and we’re pleased as punch to see him crack the top ten for the first time in has carrer.
A big money move to China saw the Champions League winner cash in a reported $300,000 per week (that reportedly might have gone unpaid) in his 6 months in Shanghai, whilst a big contract at Galatasary topped up his 2012-13 earnings.
9. Kaka (Real Madrid / Brasil) £12.5m
Once the subject of one of the most audacious contract offers ever put in front of a football player, Kaka’s fortunes have changed since picking up a succession of injuries in his time at Real Madrid.
Rumoured to be ready to take a pay-cut to stay playing Europe next season, Kaka will still have sponsorships with the likes of Pepsi and adidas to fall back on if his next club won’t match his Galactico wages.
8. Neymar (Santos / Brasil) £12.6m
As hype begins to build for the 2014 Brasil World Cup, it’s no surprise to see the sensational Neymar make a huge debut in the top 10.
7. Fernando Torres (Chelsea / Spain) £13.1m
Despite often being labelled ‘misfiring’, ‘unlucky’ and – perhaps most harshly – ‘past it’, Fernando Torres’ standing in the list of highest paid football platers certainly doesn’t reflect any of those terms.
The two-time European Championship winner and World Cup champ put in Golden Boot-worthy performance in Poland & Ukraine over the summer after picking up a Champions League winners medal with Chelsea only months prior. With a switch to adidas from Nike looking likely – we wonder how a change of football boots will effect his earnings next year.
6. Yaya Toure (Manchester City / Ivory Coast) £13.1m
Recently re-negotiating his contract with Manchester City and re-affirming his commitment to the Blues cause, Yaya Toure could well improve on his 5th place finish by this time next year.
Additionally, the powerful Ivorian has been doing a stirling job representing Puma since his switch to the brand last year – though his boot deal has a more charitable angle to it than one which would boost his earnings.
5. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United / England) £13.2m
Despite being relatively scandal-free over the last twelve months England international Rooney is still suffering the repercussions of some poor off-field conduct – losing some £4m in sponsorships compared to last year, including a deal with FIFA creators, EA Sports.
But still, the Red Devils forward has been in good form this season and has even been linked with moves abroad. We’d certainly be interested in whether a stint on the continent would boost Rooney’s earnings or not.
4. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City / Argentina) £13.5m
The man who scored the goal that clinched Manchester City’s 2011-12 Premier League crown has found himself very much in demand since an explosive start to life in England.
Puma have adopted ‘Kun’ as the lead man behind the Puma evoSPEED silo, which launched last year, and Pepsi have also bolstered his pay packet.
3. Leo Messi (Barcelona / Argentina) £26.2m
Despite 4 Ballon D’ors and 91 goals in a calendar year Leo Messi finds himself knocked off the top spot this year.
The Argentine, one of the greatest players currently gracing a football pitch, is earning roughly the same as last year, with big deals from Herbalife, Turkish Airlines and adidas – who recently launch the Barca ace’s signature collection of boots and equipment – topping up his Camp Nou wage.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid / Portugal) £28.3m
Building on his titanic earnings last year, ‘CR7′ is earning more than ever at the moment. Signing up deals with tailors, watchmakers and cosmetics companies in the last twelve months have all proven shrewd investments for the Portuguese.
Ronaldo also has a unique level of control over his image rights, splitting them 60/40 with the club (the benchmark is 50/50) – when you consider the size of the Real Madrid brand across the globe, that extra 10% is likely measured in millions.
1. David Beckham (Paris Saint-Germain) £32.9m
We said it before in 2010 and we’ll say it again now – you cannot keep Beckham down!
The former England captain has done everything humanly possible to keep ‘Brand Beckham’ as strong today as it was ten years ago. Promoting cross-category with adidas more than ever, you’ll find ‘Goldenballs’ in ads for adidas Originals, fitness miadidas and – of course – football boots.
Additionally, giving his PSG wage away to a French charity was a PR masterstroke that got people talking about his return to European football more than they were already. And only saw more sponsors lining up to plug the gap left by his earnings from the French club.
World’s Highest Paid Footballers 2011:
10. Philip Lahm (Bayern Munich / Germany) £11.9m
9. Kaka (Real Madrid / Brazil) £12.9m
8. Fernando Torres (Spain / Chelsea) £13.9m
7. Yaya Toure (Man City / Ivory Coast) £14.7m
6. Sergio Aguero (Man City / Argentina) £15.7m
5. Wayne Rooney (England / Man United) £17.2m
4. Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi / Cameroon) £19.4m
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid / Portugal) £24.3m
2. David Beckham (England / LA Galaxy) £26.2m
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina / Barcelona) £27.5m
World’s Highest Paid Footballers 2010:
10. Samuel Eto’o (Inter Milan, Cameroon) £9m
9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan, Sweden) £10.2m
8. Frank Lampard (Chelsea, England) £10.2m
7. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, England) £12m
6. Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls, France) £12.6m
5. Ronaldinho (Flamengo, Brazil) £14.4m
4. Kaka (Real Madrid, Brazil) £14.4m
3. Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina) £19.3m
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Portugal) £22.9m
1. David Beckham (LA Galaxy, England) £24.1m
World’s Highest Paid Footballers 2009:
10. Samuel Eto’o (Internazionale, Cameroon) €13.8m/£12.3m.
9. Frank Lampard (Chelsea, England) €14.2/£12.6m.
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Barcelona, Sweden)€14.5m/£12.9.
7. Carlos Tevez (Manchester City, Argentina) €15.4m/£13.7m.
6. Ronaldinho (AC Milan, Brazil) €17.2m/£15.3m.
5. Thierry Henry (Barcelona, France) €18m/£16m
4. Kaka (Real Madrid, Brazil)€18.8m/£16.8m
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Por)€30m/£26.8m
2. David Beckham (LA Galaxy, Eng) €30.4m/£27.2m
1. Leo Messi (Barcelona, Argentina) €33m/£29.5m
World’s Highest Paid Footballers 2007:
10. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool & England) £7.7 million
9. John Terry (Chelsea & England) £7.7 million
8. Fabio Cannvaro (Real Madrid & Italy) £7.9 million
7. Zinedine Zidane (Retired) £8.5 million
6. Thierry Henry (Barcelona & France) £8.6 million
5. Michael Ballack (Chelsea & Germany) £9.1 million
4. Wayne Rooney (Man Utd & England) £9.3 million
3. Ronaldo (AC Milan & Brazil) £12.7 million
2. David Beckham (LA Galaxy & England) £15.8 million
1. Ronaldinho (Barcelona & Brazil) £16 million
Source: France Football
What do you think of the trend in footballers earnings? Are the highest paid footballers who you expected? Drop us a comment below and weigh into the discussion!