When did football’s most expensive players become millionaires?

By Nick Mottram-JonesThe price tag for a football player is the most expensive on the pitch, but the most valuable part of a player’s career is also his wealth.

The most expensive player on the planet is none other than the man who became the highest paid player in history when he became the world’s highest paid footballer, Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian became the richest man in the world on June 10, 2018, when he joined Barcelona from Barcelona FC, making him the first person to do so. 

Messi became the second highest paid athlete in history in 2017 when he made $22.5 million.

In 2021, Messi became the fourth richest man of all time, with an estimated net worth of $32.4 billion.

And while Messi is now the richest footballer in history, he has been playing in an era of unprecedented financial and financial parity between the richest footballers in the game.

This year alone, Barcelona FC made $10.8 million from their own commercial revenue, including the $100 million television rights deal, and their €50 million investment in the Nou Camp stadium.

The Catalan club is also one of the richest in the World Cup era with a $1.6 billion ($2.4 million) commercial income and a $4.2 billion ($6.4) commercial sponsorship deal with Nike.

In fact, Barcelona have a market value of $5.9 billion ($8.3 million). 

The Argentinean’s own personal wealth has been the subject of much debate and speculation, with a number of clubs paying him huge sums to ensure his playing career goes on.

In 2015, Lionel was worth $2.7 billion ($4.3 billion) but, in 2017, he was worth just $2 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

And that’s despite Messi making a record $2 million salary for the 2017-18 season and the club reportedly paying him $8.7 million ($11.5million) in 2019.

The Barcelona forward made a staggering $21 million ($34.7million) from the sale of Neymar in 2017 and has been a major figure in the club’s finances since joining the club in 2014.

His salary alone has driven Barcelona to record financial profits for the club of $1 billion ($1.7billion).

This is in stark contrast to the financial health of other major clubs, including Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City. 

In the summer of 2018, Chelsea paid €45 million ($72.6million) to sign the Manchester United striker Paul Pogba.

The move saw Mourinho’s side make a profit of $8 million ($13.7m) and the Blues paid £27.6 million ($48.2million) for the England international. 

Pogba’s move was reported by the Financial Times as a £30 million ($51.7M) cash injection into the Blues’ finances.

But, after a poor first season in England, Pogba has struggled to replicate his success in Europe, and Mourinho has been left with a financial void in the side.

Pogado has made just one appearance for Mourinho’s team this season, but he is already one of their highest earners with an earnings of $11 million ($16.4m) for 2018-19. 

However, that figure is likely to fall dramatically in the summer as the new season approaches.

Pochettino has said that the club will only pay Pogba a maximum of $2m ($4m).

But this summer, the Blues will have a new signing, Nabil Bentaleb, who has scored 15 goals in 23 games. 

The 25-year-old striker made his first-team debut for Chelsea against Liverpool last weekend, and is expected to make a big impact this season. 

Bentaleb, 20, was born in Qatar and played for the Doha United youth team before moving to England at the age of 14. 

“I am excited to be here with the team and I will try to make my mark,” Bentaleb told Sky Sports. 

With Chelsea’s squad set to be overhauled this summer by the arrival of a host of new players, Mourinho will likely have a massive budget for the summer.

And if there’s a team in the Premier League with more than Manchester United or Chelsea, it’s Arsenal.

The Gunners have paid $32 million ($59.9million) ($53.3million) into their academy, which means that if they sign Pogba, they will pay him an average of $10 million ($15.8m).

“We are very happy with our investment in young players and we are also very proud of the academy and its growth,” Wenger said.

“It’s a big investment for us, it gives us a big boost for the future.”