A recent survey by France Football has shown that Lionel Messi is the world’s highest earning footballer. The survey also included a list of nineteen other players who make the official select club of the planet’s top twenty highest earning footballers. While the list is replete with many of the world’s instantly recognizable names such as Wayne Rooney, Neymar and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there is just ONE African on this list of elite earners — Ivorian midfielder, Yaya Toure.
As France Football has taken into question, not just the salaries but also revenue gained via endorsements, it appears that when placed at par with global standards, African stars do not have enough earning power. For instance, Barcelona star Lionel Messi takes in around €36 million ($39 million) before tax as his basic annual salary but also earns an additional €28 million ($30 million) per year from his litany of endorsement deals for companies such as Turkish Airlines and Adidas and EA Sports.
Next to Messi is his perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo who despite increasing his earning potential by €15m yearly still earns considerably less than his Argentine rival with Ronaldo yearly earnings pegged at €54 million compared to Messi’s €65 million. Messi’s Barcelona teammate Neymar completes the top three with yearly earnings of €36.5 million.
Ivorian star Yaya Toure comes in at 11th place with yearly earnings of €20 million ($22 million) joining a group of 12 other players, including Robin Van Persie and Gareth Bale, who earns €20 million or more yearly.
Yaya Toure, who just recently signed a new four-year deal at Manchester City, has a weekly salary that can rise to as much as £240,000 ($357,092) depending on performance-related bonuses. Toure also has endorsement deals with German sportswear manufacturer PUMA and Nissan. The Ivorian is one the continent’s biggest names and has played a key role in the Ivory Coast national team finally lifting the elusive AFCON title as captain earlier this year.
The lowest ranked player in the top twenty was Germany’s match-winner in the World Cup final, Mario Gotze who earns €16.9 million yearly.
Here is a full list of the top twenty and their yearly earnings:
1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona): €65 million
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): €54 million
3. Neymar (Barcelona): €36.5 million
4. Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain): €27.5 million
5. Robin Van Persie (Manchester United): €25.6 million
6. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid): €23.8 million
7. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United): €22.5 million
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain): €21.5 million
9. Sergie Aguero (Manchester City): €21.2 million
10.Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich): €20.2 million
11. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Yaya Toure (Manchester City): €20 million
13. Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao (Manchester United): €18.5 million
15. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid): €17.8 million
16. David Silva (Manchester City) and Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea): €17.3 million
18. David Luiz (Paris Saint-Germain): €17.2 million
19. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid): €17 million
20. Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich): €16.9 million