World Cup: How Much Do Top Footballers Earn?

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cristiano-ronaldoTo most Americans, David Beckham is a soccer superstar. But to the rest of the world, he's pretty much an average professional footballer -- at least in terms of salary. Beckham's nearly $6.5 million annual contract doesn't even crack the list of the top 20 highest-paid soccer stars, and barely puts him onto the list of the top 50 earners in the sport.


Comparatively speaking: Soccer versus American football salaries

Although top athletes in neither sport are lacking in terms of base pay, the salaries of NFL players surpass those of professional soccer players. For the NFL's 2009-2010 season, average salary for the top five highest-paid players (not including endorsement deals) was $20.32 million. For the top five footballers, salaries averaged $14.67 million.

In honor of the World Cup, here's a look at the paychecks that go with being a star of the world's favorite sport.


The top 5

cristiano-ronaldo1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Coming in at No. 1 is 25-year-old Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo, who earns $17.06 million* per year as a forward for Spanish football club Real Madrid. Ronaldo, who also captains the Portuguese national team, is the most expensive soccer player in history. Real Madrid bought his rights from U.K.-based Manchester United in a 2009 trade -- for a cool $132 million.



Zlatan Ibrahimovic2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic comes in at No. 2, earning a reported $15.7 million for the 2009-2010 season. The 29-year-old striker plays for Barcelona and the Swedish national team. Until Ronaldo's Real Madrid deal was inked in 2009, Ibrahimovic was soccer's highest-paid player.



lionel-messi3. Lionel Messi

At 22, Lionel Messi is the youngest player to make the top 20 list of highest-paid soccer stars. Messi's 2009-2010 contract is worth $13.74 million. Messi, a striker for Barcelona, will represent his home country, Argentina, at this year's World Cup.



Samuel Eto4. Samuel Eto'o

Samuel Eto'o is the captain of Cameroon's national team and a member of Italy's Internazionale club. The striker was part of the team that won the 2000 Summer Olympics and will participate in his third World Cup tournament this year. His experience has paid off; his current contract is worth $13.74 million.



ricardo-izecson5. Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite

More commonly known as Kaka to fans, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite rounds out the top five. Kaka, 27, hails from Brazil and will make $13.13 million as a midfielder for Real Madrid this year. Before teammate Ronaldo's Real Madrid deal, Kaka also spent time at the top of the highest-paid players list.



The rest of the top 20

6. Karim Benzema

  • Home Country: France
  • Current Club Team: Real Madrid
  • Age: 22
  • Salary: $11.17 million


7. Carlos Tevez

  • Home Country: Argentina
  • Current Club Team: Manchester City
  • Age: 26
  • Salary: $10.57 million


8. John Terry

  • Home Country: England
  • Current Club Team: Chelsea
  • Age: 29
  • Salary: $9.81 million


9. Frank Lampard

  • Home Country: England
  • Current Club Team: Chelsea
  • Age: 31
  • Salary: $9.81 million


10. Thierry Henry

  • Home Country: France
  • Current Club Team: Barcelona
  • Age: 32
  • Salary: $9.81 million


11. Xavi

  • Home Country: Spain
  • Current Club Team: Barcelona
  • Age: 30
  • Salary: $9.81 million


12. Ronaldinho

  • Home Country: Brazil
  • Current Club Team: AC Milan
  • Age: 30
  • Salary: $9.81 million


13. Steven Gerrard

  • Home Country: England
  • Current Club Team: Liverpool
  • Age: 29
  • Salary: $9.81 million


14. Daniel Alves

  • Home Country: Brazil
  • Current Club Team: Barcelona
  • Age: 26
  • Salary: $9.21 million


15. Michael Ballack

  • Home Country: Germany
  • Current Club Team: Chelsea
  • Age: 33
  • Salary: $8.45 million


16. Raul

  • Home Country: Spain
  • Current Club Team: Real Madrid
  • Age: 32
  • Salary: $8.45 million


17. Rio Ferdinand

  • Home Country: England
  • Current Club Team: Manchester United
  • Age: 31
  • Salary: $8.45 million


18. Kolo Toure

  • Home Country: Ivory Coast
  • Current Club Team: Manchester City
  • Age: 29
  • Salary: $8.45 million


19. Wayne Rooney

  • Home Country: England
  • Current Club Team: Manchester United
  • Age: 24
  • Salary: $7.85 million


20. Robinho

  • Home Country: Brazil
  • Current Club Team: Manchester City
  • Age: 26
  • Salary: $7.85 million

Next:Six Surprising Six-Figure Jobs: No Degree Required >>


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*Soccer player salary information provided by Portuguese marketing agency Futebol Finance

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