Being a pro soccer player is one of the most financially rewarding careers a person can have. Teams all over the world are itching for new talent and thus begin scouting children when they are extremely young, and often offer multimillion dollar contracts to mere teenagers. If you have the talent, you can bet there will be a multitude of teams lining up to have you sign with them.
Of course, the job is not easy. These athletes often give up their real childhood and are on strict training and practicing regimens from a very young age. And for every one player who does make it big, there are thousands of others who do not get this reward for all of their hard work. In addition to the physical and social sacrifices, the job can be extremely mentally draining as players often suffer from a ton of media scrutiny and hate from the fans if they don’t perform up to par. This can break down even the toughest person and not everyone can cut it in this type of business
But this list will look at those who absolutely made it. These 15 men on this list have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears to get to where they are today, and have enjoyed the glory, the fame and of course, the fortune. They are quickly propelling up the lists of the best players in the world and, at less than 23 years old, they aren’t even near their primes yet.
These athletes are making more money than people their age can even dream of making in any other profession, and they get to make that money doing something they love. It doesn’t get any better than that. So, read on and enjoy this list of the Top 15 richest young football players in the world. For the purposes of our lists, we'll be looking at players aged 23 and under.
15 Raheem Sterling, $22.8 Million
Raheem Sterling is turning heads all across Europe for his brilliant play for Liverpool. And, at only 20 years old, he has already had over two full years with the English club. He is a very quick, agile and crafty player capable of capitalizing on even the smallest mistake. He also received the Golden Boy award in 2014, which recognizes him as the best player under 21 playing in Europe. Look for Sterling to improve every year, make even more money and soon be recognized as one of the best in the world.
14 T13. Marquinhos, $22.9 Million
Marquinhos is the next great defender from Brazil, following in the footsteps of guys like Thiago Silva, Roberto Carlos and David Luiz. The 20 year old centre-back currently plays for PSG and is among their best defenders. In 2014, Marquinhos was garnering heavy attention from numerous top teams throughout Europe, but re-signed a deal to remain with the French club. Marquinhos utilizes great vision and versatility in his game as he is capable of playing any of the defending positions. Marquinhos also was an instrumental part of PSG winning the Ligue 1 and Coupe de la Ligue in his first season with them.
13 T13. Romelu Lukaku, $22.9 Million
Romelu Lukaku is one of the most promising young strikers in the world. He was always a solid player, but really gained worldwide attention at the 2014 World Cup. As a member of the Belgian national team, Lukaku scored the winning goal over Team USA to propel Belgium into the Quarterfinals. However, true football fans have known about the 21 year old for a long time, due to his successful stints with both Chelsea and Everton. He signed a 5 year contract in 2014 with Everton worth over 43 million dollars, so look for him to work harder than ever to prove he’s worth it.
12 Matija Nastasic, $24 Million
Matija Nastasic has been an important member of the Serbian National Team for about three years, which is extremely important as he is only 22 years old. He has been described as a sensation and a “rock,” by those who have played with him, for his great defensive abilities. In terms of his club career, Nastasic was a member of Manchester City for over three years, which likely helps with his large net worth, due to the high wages he was paid there. In 2015, he was signed to a four year contract by German club, Schalke 04. He will without a doubt be one of their best players going forward and we wouldn’t be shocked to see him be mentioned with the best defenders in the world, very soon.
11 Phil Jones – $24.4 Million
Phil Jones has the potential to be the next big defensive star in English soccer. The 23 year old defender is a mainstay for the English national teams and has been representing England on various levels for over six years. Jones has been a member of the historic English club Manchester United for the last four years and has been one of their best defenders. Jones is known primarily for his physical play and powerful build. The 6’1 defender is able to overpower most, if not all, of the strikers who try to “bully” him.
10 Julian Draxler, $27.5 Million
Draxler is the second player from Schalke 04 to appear on this list, and he is constantly ranked as one of the most promising players of 2015. The 21 year old winger has enjoyed a ton of success both in his club career and his international career, where he was a member of the 2014 World Cup champion German squad. He is best known for his speed, his shooting power and his ability to perform in clutch situations when his team needs it the most.
9 Gerard Deulofeu – $27.6 Million
Deulofeu is an extremely versatile Spanish winger/forward who is a hot commodity in La Liga. The 21 year old Deulofeu is currently on loan to Sevilla from Barcelona, and was on loan to Everton before that. Despite not having outstanding statistics thus far in his career, the fact that he is able to make almost 30 million in only a few years is a testament to how much potential this kid has and how highly teams think of him. We would not be shocked to see him return to Barcelona after his loan and take on a primary role for the club in the coming years.
8 Xherdan Shaqiri – $30.5 Million
Xherdan Shaqiri has the potential to be the next great superstar in the world of soccer, and is already one of the most decorated Swiss players in history. He has enjoyed immense success in both his club career (as a member of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan) and his international career (scoring a hat trick against Honduras in the 2014 World Cup to secure Switzerland a spot in the round of 16). Shaqiri has gained worldwide praise for his speed and finesse both on and off the ball. Don’t be surprised to see his net worth skyrocket in the next few years.
7 Koke - $30.5 Million
Koke is a Spanish midfielder that has spent his entire club career with Atletico Madrd. The 23 year old has been with them since 2009, but only has 18 goals in 215 games. You may think that these numbers don’t reflect his over $30 million net worth, but you would be wrong. Koke is among the absolute best passers in the world and is extremely gifted at setting up attacking opportunities for his teammates. He will continue to be a member of Atletico Madrid for the foreseeable future as he recently signed a five year deal to remain with Atletico Madrid, proving he is a very loyal player.
6 Isco – $31.6 Million
Like Koke, Isco is a Spanish midfielder with a promising future, but that is where the similarities stop. The 23 year old Isco is an attacking midfielder who absolutely loves to find the back of the net. Isco’s outstanding performance for Malaga garnered him attention from some of the biggest clubs on earth, namely Manchester City and Real Madrid. Isco ultimately decided to sign with Real Madrid for a 5 year contract for over 46 million dollars. Isco has the talent and the pieces around him to be the next great attacking midfielder.
5 David Alaba – $32 Million
David Alaba is an extremely versatile player who currently plays for Bayern Munich and the Austrian National Team. The now 22 year old holds the record for being the youngest player to play for the Austrian National Team, when he played for them as a 17 year old in 2009. He has enjoyed a ton of success in a variety of positions in his career. He’s played midfielder, winger and has most recently found his home playing the left-back position. This versatility makes him a hot commodity for any team in the world.
4 James Rodriguez – $39.2 Million
James Rodriguez absolutely burst onto the worldwide scene following his great performance at the 2014 World Cup, in which he won the Golden Boot as the tournament's leading scorer. The 23 year old was well known in Europe before this as a member of Porto and Monaco, but this performance in the World Cup got the attention of some big name clubs. Ultimately, Real Madrid picked him up on transfer for a transfer fee of over $120 Million, making him the most expensive Colombian player of all time.
3 Neymar – $50 Million
In Neymar, we are perhaps looking at the future best player in the world. At only 23 years old, Neymar has accomplished more than most people would hope to do in their entire lives. Not only is he consistently pegged as a top 10 player in the world, he is also currently playing for Barcelona with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Neymar has also been brilliant on the national scene as he is already the captain of the Brazilian national team. There is little doubt in the soccer world that he will soon see himself as one of the richest players on earth.
2 Mario Gotze – $54.9 Million
The World Cup could not have gone much better for Mario Gotze. The 22 year old midfielder not only won the World Cup as a member of the German national team, but also scored the World Cup winning goal in extra time of the Final, making him the youngest player ever to score a World Cup clinching goal. This propelled him even further to superstardom in the soccer world. Even before the World Cup, however, he was an extremely versatile and talented player who has all the makings of being one of the best players in the world.
1 Paul Pogba – $68.6 Million
Coming in at number one on our list is Paul Pogba. Pogba is a tall and talented midfielder with the Italian club Juventus. The 22 year old Frenchman is touted as being extremely creative, skillful and powerful. He has won numerous awards and accolades and was given the Best Young Player Award following the 2014 World Cup. After beginning his career with Mancherster United, Pogba moved on to Juventus, much to the dismay of United fans. And, in 2014, Pogba signed a contract to remain with Juventus into 2019. The contract will pay him over $100,000 per week, though it's entirely possible he transfers to even larger team that will pay him even more.