Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in world (even if some people call it soccer – we'll forgive them).

It's estimated to reach more than 3.5 billion fans. Cricket is the only one that comes close with 2.5 billion.

With great popularity comes great salary. The numbers have hit surreal heights and the trend does not seem to be slowing down.

Let’s talk about the players who take the sweetest piece of pie. Here is the list of the highest-paid football players on the planet in 2022.

Some of these names will undoubtedly surprise you!

Highest-paid footballers 2022

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nassr) - $200 million/year

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Over 20 years into his professional career, Ronaldo has become the first man to score in five World Cups. So perhaps it's no surprise he ranks at the top of the list of highest-paid football players in the world.

Back in the summer of 2021, he became the highest-paid player in the history of the English Premier League when he signed a two-year deal with his old club Manchester United. But we all know how that ended.

His recent move to Al Nassr – a result of him having “won everything in Europe" - sees the player earning $200M a year – making the five-time Ballon d’Or winner the highest-earning soccer player in the world.

It’s a move from the Portuguese professional player that’s caused much debate, but one there’s no denying it’s one hell of a pay day.


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We'll see French giants a few times on this list. Three of the five highest-paid football stars earn their living in one club, PSG.

Interestingly, it is still not enough for the Parisians to win UEFA Champions League. Nevertheless, Kylian Mbappe has become the highest paid footballer in the world by signing a massive new contract with PSG.

Despite frequently stating his desire to play for Real Madrid, Mbappe opted against joining the Spanish giants and instead committed his future to Paris in a deal that apparently gives him control over coaching appointments and player recruitment.

Hopefully that will help ease the sting of the inevitable bottling in the Champo knockouts next season.

3. Lionel Messi (PSG) - $41 million/year

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Second spot is reserved for arguably the best player in the history of the game.

Even at the age of 34, Lionel Messi is still considered the GOAT by many. The Argentinean superstar became a free agent after making the surprising decision to leave Barcelona in the summer of 2021.

Messi joined PSG not long after leaving Camp Nou. The French heavyweights offered Leo a whopping $41 million net annual salary.

The contract was signed for two years with the option of expanding it to a third. Click here to find the latest tips and predictions on football.

4. Neymar Jr (PSG) - $36.5 million/year

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Next up is Messi’s teammate Neymar who has signed a contract extension with PSG in the summer of 2021.

The Brazilian star will be loyal to the Parisian outfit until the summer of 2025. He will receive $36.5 million a year.

Neymar has constantly been among the top five or top ten players in the world in the last decade.

He has won everything in France but would certainly trade numerous domestic titles for the much-wanted UEFA Champions League silverware.

Speaking of which, PSG have included a hefty bonus tag into Neymar’s contract if the team go on and win the elite continental competition.

5. Oscar (Shanghai SIPG) – $34 million / year

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Eyebrows were raised when Oscar moved to China in 2016 with the peak of his career still to come. 

However it's been estimated that the Brazilian earned more than three times his salary at Shanghai than he would have done at the Blues.

Yes, he might have lost out on a more high profile career but we imagine the private island he probably owns will ease the balm of missing out on the bigger trophy cabinet. 

6. Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe) – $31 million / year

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Admit it: you thought Iniesta had retired. No – while his great teammate Xavi is currently managing Barcelona, the man who scored the winner in the 2010 World Cup final is currently dazzling defences in Japan.

Since joining Vissell Kobe in 2018, Iniesta has won the Emperor’s Cup and the Japanese Super Cup with his new club. He's 37 years old and might yet play until 40.  

7. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid) – $26 million / year

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Real Madrid rival only Manchester United in terms of paying footballers vast wages and then failing to get the best out of them.

Hazard has spent the majority of his time at Real Madrid in the treatment room since joining from Chelsea back in 2019.

He's not exactly been in sparkling form whenever he has made the team, either.

8. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – $26million / year

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The Egyptian king of Liverpool signed a new three-year deal at the start of July that made him the highest paid player in the history of the club.

It was well-deserved, after a staggering 156 goals in 254 games in his time at Anfield – and counting. 

Salah will be more important than ever this season after Sadio Mane’s departure. We reckon he'll cope.

9. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - $24 million/year

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He is arguably the best player in the world right now, and that quality is reflected in a hefty wage packet.

The Belgian midfielder has put his signing on a renewed contract in the summer of 2021. He has put pen to paper to extend loyalty to Manchester City until 2025.

This luxury will cost the Citizens more than $24 million a year, though the exact figure is unknown.

10. Erling Haaland (Manchester City) – $24 million/year

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Manchester City’s new signing arrives with high expectations after penning a huge deal.

It won’t be Haaland’s first taste of Manchester life, as his father played for the Citizens in the early 2000s, a time that spawned a now-famous picture of a young Haaland Jr in a City shirt.

Fans will be hoping he can replicate his goal-a-game record from Borussia Dortmund in the Premier League. If he does, City could dominate for the next decade. 

11. David de Gea (Manchester United) – $23 million/year

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Manchester United’s keeper was once considered the best keeper in the world, but has since endured a streaky few years.

He’s still world-class on his day, though, as is reflected in his huge salary.

De Gea has one year remaining on his contract. Whether he'll sign an extension or move on will depend on the opinion of new managed Erik Ten Haag.

12. Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)– $22 million / year

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One of the great midfielders of his generation, rumours abound that Toni Kross will retire when his contract expires at the end of next season. 

If so, the German can reflect on a brilliant career in which he banked millions of dollars and won nearly as many Champions Leagues – plus the World Cup in 2014. 

It'a easy to forget Kroos has a stupendously successful stint at Bayern Munich before joining Real Madrid.