Saturday, July 07, 2007

Top Paid Footballers Of The World

Here are the highest paid football players as of 2006:


$29.5 million, £16 million, €23.5 million

The impish Barcelona play-maker is not enjoying the best of seasons by his own standards. Like many of the stars of the last World Cup, a long club and international season has taken its physical toll. But he has leapfrogged David Beckham to become soccer's top-earning player thanks to endorsement deals with Nike and the likes of consumer electronics giant Sony.

David Beckham
Real Madrid

$29.1 million, £15.8 million, €23.2 million

No one can shift soccer merchandise like Beckham. He did it for Manchester United during his pomp and for Real Madrid over the past four years, where he won over the fans if not the critics. Now coming to America on the back of a potential $250 million marketing and playing deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy, he has proved he has the marketing savvy to put him in the elite of sports commercial superstars who outlast their playing days.

AC Milan

$23.4 million, £12.7 million, €18.6 million

Injury has reduced the buck-toothed Brazilian striker to a super-sized shadow of the player who is one of only two people to be named FIFA's World Footballer of the Year three times. Offloaded by Real Madrid in a clear-out of its galacticos to AC Milan, Ronaldo seems destined for America, where his playboy lifestyle will sustain marketing appeal that is going nowhere in Europe.

Wayne Rooney
Manchester United

$17.2 million, £9.3 million, €13.7 million

The epitome of the sports star who wears his brains in his boots, Rooney's on-field goal-scoring partnership this season with Cristiano Ronaldo, cemented by Paul Scholes' Indian summer, has made Manchester United the English Premiership's unexpected top dogs. The barely 20-something's commercial challenge is to turn raw soccer talent into polished marketing power.

Michael Ballack

$16.8 million, £9.1 million, €13.4 million

The switch from being Bayern Munich's superstar to just another highly paid midfielder in Chelsea's glittering firmament of world-class stars has proved a challenge for the German on the pitch. But not when it comes to his bank account. Chelsea is reported to pay him a base salary of $240,000 (£121,000) a week, which would make him--for now--the top-paid player in the game.

Thierry Henry

$15.8 million, £8.6 million, €12.6 million

One of Europe's most feared strikers has suffered more than most in 2006-2007 from a punishing 2005-2006 season that culminated in France's defeat in the World Cup Final. But the Arsenal captain's elegance and glamour on and off the pitch--he is married to model Nicole Merry--keeps him a marketeers' favorite--while his Arselal contract of $220,000 (£112,000) a week keeps his bank manager merry, too.

Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid

$15.6 million, £8.5 million, €12.4 million

An inglorious end to a glorious career--that head butt in the 2006 World Cup Final--has not diminished the Frenchman's cult status at home now that he is retired. Famously shy for a superstar, he always made more from his playing than his pitching abilities. His earnings power is eroding now that his feet no longer do his talking.

Fabio Cannavaro
Real Madrid

$14.6 million, £7.9 million, €11.6 million

Leading Italy to the 2006 World Cup catapulted this Italian defender into the ranks of soccer's best paid thanks to a move to Real Madrid from scandal- tainted Juventus. In Spain, he is not quite the consistent force he was in Italy, but the 32-year-old is still in fine enough form to strip down to his underwear for Dolce & Gabbana ads.

John Terry

$14.3 million, £7.7 million, €11.4 million

A hard-driving muscular center half for club and country, Chelsea's iconic captain makes our list thanks to billionaire owner Ramon Abramovich's largesse and a lucrative endorsement deal with kit maker Umbro, even though he is no clothes-hanger. Terry is likely to move up the earnings league next year as his contract is up for renewal.

Steven Gerrard

$14.2 million, £7.7 million, €11.3 million

Liverpool's heart and soul, local boy Gerrard provides box-to-box English drive to a midfield of European flair. He's inspirational on the field, and handsomely paid by Liverpool for being so, but has yet to break through to the highest level of marketing superstardom.