According to some, football is a simple game of 11 versus 11 chasing a spherical object across a field. For many, it is a shame that this isn’t the case. It instils passion as well as a fierce allegiance to a particular team or club.
Millions across the globe swear their loyalty which at times can take on an almost tribal effect. Yet recently, football has become a stats game with in depth analysis of players including their dietary habits.
Yet there is no specific theory or formula as far as the beautiful game is concerned. Football is simply about scoring more than the opposition. Fans are mesmerized by their favourite players including goalkeepers and of course legendary strikers. As Arsene Wenger so deftly put it, “We live in a society of opinions.” And that is exactly the scenario we have when it comes to naming our top strikers of all time.
Everyone will have their favourites for a number of different reasons. However, it is the ones that have made a significant impact on the game that will never be forgotten. There are many strikers who live long in our memories such as former Manchester United player Bobby Charlton with his sweet left foot.
On the other hand, there is also Hungarian Ferenc Puskas, Alberto di Stefano, Gerd Muller and Portuguese forward Eusebio. These particular individuals lit up stadiums across the world with their scoring prowess.
Then there’s the Gallic flair of Thierry Henry not to mention current trend setters Diego Costa of Chelsea and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero.
The difference between these players is the gulf in wealth and the pots of money swirling around today’s game. From sponsorship deals to signing fees here are the top 20 goal machines who have struck gold on and off the field.
20 Danny Welbeck; $12 million
Arsenal goal machine and former Manchester United striker is one of the hottest strikers under 24 years old. A grafter at heart, his goal scoring was not demonstrated at the Red Devils. However, he is banging goals in for the Gunners after a $20 million plus move to the Emirates. After more than 60 games for United he has swapped the red shirt for another one which has raked him in around $12 million so far.
19 Karim Benzema; $15 million
The Real Madrid and France striker is no stranger to hitting the back of the net. His multi-million dollar move to the Bernebau has seen Benzema net some high rolling deals with major sponsors. This includes the likes of both Adidas and EA Sports. A former French player of the year, he has previously rejected a move away to Old Trafford. In spite of the vested interest in the French forward, Benzema’s current earnings are just as impressive as his endorsements.
18 Carlos Tevez; $16.6 million
The ex-Manchester City striker makes it on to the list with earnings in excess of $16 million. Following a high profile move across Manchester from United to City, the Argentinean forward has now settled at Juventus. Love him or hate him, Tevez made a huge contribution to Manchester City’s first title in nearly half a century. In addition to this, he has numerous sponsors such as Nike who are responsible for paying Tevez a small fraction of what he has pocketed so far.
17 Emmanuel Adebayor; $17 million
With major sponsors in the footballing stable such as Adidas and Power Horse, Emmanuel Adebayor has taken home around $17 million. His career earnings have seen him net a $6 million pay-out in order to reduce his wages when moving to White Hart Lane. The former African player of the year was earning at one stage upwards of a quarter of a million dollars a week. When he crossed North London to join Tottenham Hotspur he is still taking home around $160,000 every week.
16 Fernando Torres; $20 million
Having burst onto the English Premier League scene in 2007, Spanish striker Fernando Torres has set the pitch alight with his goals. This was particularly during his spell at Liverpool where he was knocking goals in for fun. Torres has bagged more than 80 goals in the Premier League but scored less than 25 in his spell at Chelsea. After an $80 million move to Stamford Bridge, Torres found it difficult to repay the expensive transfer fee. His laboured performances and lack of goals meant that he often found himself on the substitutes bench. This was coupled with several strikers coming to Stamford Bridge including Frenchmen Loic Remy. Torres was then moved on to AC Milan this summer in a two-year loan deal. Nevertheless he has still managed to rake in earnings of $20 million.
15 Sergio Aguero; $21 million
Another Argentinean striker makes it into the top 20 in the form of Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero. The former Atletico Madrid marksman was responsible for arguably the most important goal for the Blues when they secured the title by just one goal in 2012. With just seconds to go and the title heading to the other side of Manchester, Mario Balloteli helped the ball on to the diminutive striker. Aguero duly obliged and ensured Manchester City won the title for the first time in 44 years. Aguero can count among his sponsors Puma as well as Pepsi which have netted him more than $20 million. Meanwhile, he is all ready to sign a new five-year contract with City which will ensure he remains at the club until 2019.
14 Radamel Falcao $26 million
One of the biggest coups of the summer transfer window was the loan agreement of Radamel Falcao to Manchester United. The Colombian international has left the sunny climbs of Monaco for the season as he aims to cement his place in a new look United side. This has not detracted from the fact that Falcao is being paid nearly half a million dollars a week. In essence, this puts the striker on similar terms to the likes of Wayne Rooney.
13 Robin van Persie; $29 million
Known as Van the Man, Dutchman Robin Van Persie has taken his career earnings to nearly the $30 million mark. Having scored nearly 200 Premier League goals so far, the Manchester United forward missed out on the captaincy to Wayne Rooney during the summer. Nonetheless, this has not stopped Van Persie from signing a variety of endorsement deals. Currently under the tutelage of his Dutch compatriot Louis Van Gaal, Van Persie repaid his transfer fee to United with some important goals during the 2012/13 season.
12 Robbie Keane; $35 million
MLS favourite and former Tottenham Hotspur striker Robbie Keane has earned $35 million thanks to big money deals. This features moving from Spurs to Liverpool in deal which was worth in the region of $22 million. Furthermore, his earning in Major League Soccer at the L.A. Galaxy has added to his financial war chest. Nearing the end of his career, Keane is still earning pretty big bucks across the pond where he has helped the Galaxy win the MLS Cup.
11 Didier Drogba; $40 million
Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba is considered to be one of the most recognizable footballers on the planet. His strength and power has seen the Chelsea forward bag more than 150 goals for the Blues in his first spell at Stamford Bridge. His principal sponsors have included Nike and Pepsi in a career so far that has seen him win a host of trophies. This includes that famous winning penalty shootout spot kick in the 2012 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich. The Ivorian had a brief spell in the far east with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua where he was earning an impressive $300,000 a week.
10 Robinho; $50 million
Former AC Milan striker Robinho has not done too badly in the transfer and sponsorship stakes. This has included stints with current Premier League champions Manchester City and playing at the San Siro. The Brazilian has now returned to his home nation where he is strutting his stuff for Santos. Taking into account his signing on fees not to mention his salary, Robinho has earned around $50 million during his career.
9 Zlatan Ibrahimovic; $70 million
One of the most expensive signings in history, Zlatan Ibrahimovic now plies his footballing trade at Qatari owned Paris Saint Germain. In fact, the powers that be at Barcelona paid a staggering $94 million to Inter Milan to prize Ibrahimovic away from the San Siro. With earnings nearly topping the $90 million mark, the former Barcelona striker is hot property. Nike and Bonnier are among his main sponsors and has been a major influence in television rights fees soaring over the past few years.
8 Samuel Eto’o; €85 million
Cameroon and former Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o is high up on the list thanks to his high salary packets. This has included playing for FC Anzhi Makhachkala where he earned an extraordinary wage packet of around $15 million. Other areas where the current Everton striker is bringing in the dollars include a sponsorship deal with PUMA. The latter is paying in excess of $4 million for this, whilst he also has an extensive car collection. This incorporates not only a Maybach Xenatec but two shiny Aston Martins.
7 Wayne Rooney; $90 million
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney is quids in thanks to a whopping $90 million earned. At present, the former Everton player is on a reported $500,000 per week at Old Trafford. This is on top of sponsorship links with Nike and telecommunications giant Samsung. He is receiving in excess of $5 million annually for both deals. He earned more than $20 million in the last twelve months, whilst he is recognized as one of the Premier League’s top earners.
6 Thierry Henry; $92 million
Despite being on the wrong side of his mid-30’s, Thierry Henry has amassed career earnings of more than $90 million. The Frenchman was known for his lightning pace and although he has slowed down in recent years, his wages haven’t. Playing for the New York Red Bulls, the Gallic talisman takes home a basic salary of more than $2.5 million. Furthermore, Henry enjoys bonuses of more than $3 million. This is added to his endorsement deals with PUMA and his very own sportswear company named evoPOWER. To top it all off, the ex- Arsenal striker owns several properties from a luxury apartment in New York to a London property worth nearly $7 million.
5 Kaka; $95 million
Kaka sambas his way into the top five with career earnings of nearly $100 million. The former AC Milan stalwart has enjoyed several bumper paydays alongside a wide variety of endorsement deals. This includes a sponsorship agreement with EA Sports not to mention Sony and Adidas. This is added to the earnings he has received strutting down the catwalk for Armani spanning nearly a decade. Other finances come from a property portfolio with luxury apartments in the U.S, Milan and Madrid.
4 Ronaldinho; $100 million
He has been on the scene for more than 10 years an Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho has earned a vast wage. Following his impressive performances in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the former AC Milan player was certainly in the money when he joined FC Barcelona. His total earnings at the time were estimated at around $45 million, whilst this attracted interest from sponsors. Everyone was lining up including Nike who was a main sponsor. The Brazilian enjoys a host of properties from Greece to Barcelona and even Florida.
3 Neymar; $104 million
The nimble Brazilian Neymar has burst on to the scene in the last few years. Heading up some of the soccer rich lists, the Barcelona forward has catapulted himself into stardom. Currently he holds a wealth of sponsorship deals with the likes of Heliar, Panasonic, VW and Santander to name but a few. For this, he is receiving more than $25 million but the big bucks have started to come in after a move to FC Barcelona in June 2013. He is earning in the region of $15 million a season with the Spanish giants whilst his personal wealth topped the $30 million mark last year.
2 Lionel Messi; $180 million
Although Lionel Messi has given up his Ballon D’Or Award to Cristiano Ronaldo, he remains one of the wealthiest players of the lot. At the end of 2012, the Argentinean magician signed a contract with Barcelona for more than $20 million per year. This is set to last until at least 2018. Furthermore, he has signed a boot deal with Adidas which nets Messi around $3 million per year. He has a contract in place with Emirates Airlines as well as EA Sports and drinks company Gatorade. The tiny magician has bolstered this with an endorsement via Gillette and a widespread property collection with several apartments in his hometown of Rosario.
1 Cristiano Ronaldo; $250 million
The greatest player on the planet of the moment tops the charts with a magnificent quarter of a billion dollars earned so far. Having started off at Sporting Lisbon, a fresh faced Ronaldo then moved to Manchester United. It was under the helm of Sir Alex Ferguson where his talent took off after a string of incredible performances. This caught the eye of Real Madrid who at the time paid a world record transfer fee in the region of $125 million. After settling in to a side which now includes Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo is flying high in the fiscal charts. This is largely in part down to a sensational $209 million contract with Los Blancos until 2018. Portugal is also paying for his services featuring a $22 million annual contract. This is added to his lucrative sponsorship deals with several high end brands such as Armani, Jacob and Co, Castrol Edge and KFC. The Portuguese player even has his own range of clothing entitled CR7. Ronaldo has a penchant for luxury cars and is known to have the top down on his Lamborghini Aventador or Bugatti Veyron.
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