The world’s best footballers have long been some of the biggest earners across the globe, but in the 21st century we’ve seen a dramatic increase in their salaries, with some of the most famous names in the beautiful game now living lavish lifestyles that never cease to amaze.
Not just iconic players but also household names, the modern-day footballer needs to be an athlete, investor, and entertainer, all rolled into one – and from Messi to Ronaldo, the savviest of the bunch are making more off the pitch than they are on and splashing out on dream homes, luxury car collections and high-end designer attire at a rate that most of us can barely keep up with.
It’s not just about scoring goals and winning matches anymore, and the highest earners have landed themselves a string of lucrative brand deals and endorsements with the likes of Nike and Adidas to top up – and often, completely eclipse – their club earnings. Doing so has meant that they can afford to treat themselves to everything from five-star holidays to private jets, invest in stocks and shares and treat their families and friends to lifestyles as enviable as theirs.
From Messi to Ronaldo, we asked the experts at NetBet Sport to reveal who the biggest earners and spenders are in 2021 – and these guys topped the list.
The Portuguese legend, 36, celebrated overtaking Pele’s goal record with a hat trick against Cagliari back in March, and today has close to an impressive 800 career goals to his name. He’s come a long way since his humble beginnings in Madeira, splashing out on an awe-inspiring £3m estate in Alderley Edge after his initial arrival at Manchester United and splurging a further £4.8 million on his Spanish mansion after moving to Real Madrid.
Today, he’s back in Manchester following a £20 million transfer, and owns a prized car collection totalling upwards of £16 million. The piece de resistance? An £8.5m Bugatti Centodieci, which is one of only ten in the world – and dwarfs the price of his Mercedes G-Class Brabus – an SUV worth £600,000 that was gifted to him by girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez.
With an estimated net worth of £291m, Lionel Messi remains one of the most valuable and highly sought-after footballers in the world, having recently signed for Paris Saint-Germain for a two year contract following 21 years at Barcelona. He’ll make an extra $41m for the privilege, and is expected to swap his £5.5 million Barcelona mansion for an even more lavish hideaway in his new French home.
Earlier this year, he was reported to have splashed out £7.25m on a luxury apartment in the Porsche Design Tower in Miami – which boasts three car lifts to allow residents to elevate and park their cars on the same floor as their suites.
The proud owner of a £1.5 million Pagani Zonda and a £100,000 Gran Turismo S, he’s another player with a penchant for cars – although his collection remains somewhat modest when compared with extravagant Ronaldo’s.
Having enjoyed a similar career path to Messi and now his team mate at PSG, former Barcelona FC star Neymar enjoys an impressive £36 million salary and a vast luxury car collection including an Audi RS7, Ferrari 459, Lamborghini Veneno and Red Lobster to name but a few.
Add to that a lavish superyacht, a helicopter, and not one, but two private jets, and it’s safe to say that the Brazilian star enjoys travelling in style, while his $8 million mansion in Rio de Janeiro makes for an opulent holiday home when he returns to visit family.
He might not play on the pitch anymore, but David Beckham is still worthy of a mention, as with a net worth of £450 million, he remains one of the richest and most successful football players of all time and has become even more highly sought-after since hanging up his boots for the final time. Thanks to his good looks and meticulously crafted personal brand, he has won himself numerous lucrative brand deals over the years, and has turned his hand to everything from food and drink, fashion, TV and entertainment.
Known for his ongoing charity work, he has poured much of his fortune into helping others and developing young football players to give them the best possible chance of success, but nevertheless, he certainly isn’t averse to splashing the cash.
No stranger to exotic cars, his most expensive and sought-after vehicles include an Audi RS6 Avant, a Porsche 911 Turbo, a Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG, a Lexus LS 600hL and finally, a Ferrari F430. Add to that a luxurious £16 million mansion in Los Angeles – reportedly the third most expensive property in the city – and it’s the kind of wealth and success that many of today’s footballers aspire to.
Beckham himself has confirmed his penchant for extravagance, once saying in an interview that he used the excess to help him relax when his football career ended. There’s no doubt that his lavish lifestyle will continue long into the future, and his ongoing stardom has paved the way for the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar to follow suit once their time on the pitch is up.