Financial champions: Soccer’s biggest earners 2024

18 mins
  • Manchester City tops our list as the highest-earning football club globally, based on yearly revenue, total market value, and club valuation. Real Madrid follows closely in second place.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo leads the way as the highest-earning soccer player in the world, with a staggering yearly salary of over 218 million USD. Neymar takes the crown for the most expensive transfer fee ever paid for a player.
  • When it comes to fan experiences, Newcastle United takes the crown for affordability among Europe’s top soccer clubs—costing fans roughly 134 USD per year to be a supporter.
  • Ensure you catch all your favorite global matches with a VPN. A premium VPN such as ExpressVPN acts as your gateway to uninterrupted viewing, delivering seamless, high-quality streaming of any league’s live games, no matter where you are.

We’re in the throes of soccer’s high-stakes league season, and the excitement is at an all-time high. Elite teams are battling it out across major tournaments—Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, Copa América, and Euro 2024. This is where the thrill of soccer hits its peak with unforgettable matches, historic finals, and nations fighting for the win.

Amid this action, ExpressVPN has introduced the Financial Champions Report. We’re taking a closer look at the financial side of soccer. We explore the industry’s billion-dollar revenues, the huge salaries of star players, and the cost for fans to follow their teams.

Get ready as we reveal the big-money deals, the financial strategies behind club successes, and what all this means for soccer fans today.

Top 10 highest-earning clubs: Manchester City leads the table

The soccer industry is big business, reaching far beyond just the matches played on the field. It’s the most popular sport worldwide, engaging fans across all continents and making it a prime pastime for billions of people.

Europe leads this economic charge and is fueled by the continent’s historic leagues and global fanbase​​. The “big five” European leagues are at the heart of this boom. But soccer’s financial influence spans well beyond the continent.

With the game’s heart beating strongly in South America, Africa, and beyond, the sport’s universal appeal is undeniable. Yet, the latest wave of investment from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is spotlighting soccer’s growing economic clout in new territories, signaling an era of even broader commercial potential.

But despite this evolving landscape, Europe remains the epicenter of soccer wealth, thanks to deep-rooted investments and a rich history with the sport. We rank the top wealthiest soccer clubs not just on their on-field achievements but on their yearly revenue, total market value, club valuation, and the average price of season tickets:

1. Manchester City – UK

The Sky Blues, champions of the 2022/23 season, are leading the way both in winning trophies and as the top-earning team. Pep Guardiola, the man at the helm, has been a key figure in City’s success. Known for his strategic brilliance, he’s guided the team to several Premier League titles and significant victories, transforming how they play and compete. 

This on-field success is paralleled by the club’s savvy financial strategy, spearheaded by the City Football Group. Their investments have significantly enhanced City’s financial health, global fanbase, and commercial appeal.

Their investment has not just boosted City’s bank balance but also their global fanbase and commercial appeal. The club is valued at 5 billion USD (3.93 billion GBP), which looks at the club’s overall worth on paper including assets, brand value, player contracts and other financial indicators. While the club’s market value comes in at a still significant 1.37 billion USD (1.08 billion GBP), which represents the price the club could make in a sale at the current time, this can be influenced by performances, debts and market conditions. Season tickets at the Etihad are going for 897 USD (708 GBP), contributing to their hefty yearly revenue of 896 million USD (706 million GBP).

2. Real Madrid – Spain 

According to our report, Real Madrid stands as the second wealthiest soccer team in the world, with a valuation of 6 billion USD (4.78 billion GBP) and a yearly revenue of 901 million USD (711 million GBP). Their market value hits 1.13 billion USD (890 million GBP), while season tickets at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu are set at a pricey 3,170 USD (2,500 GBP).

Real Madrid’s stature comes from both its financial success and the legacy of its legends. Stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo Nazário, Mesut Özil, Pepe (Képler Laveran Lima Ferreira), Karim Benzema, and David Beckham have all worn the club’s iconic white jerseys, contributing significantly to Real Madrid’s success and global appeal. Their performances on the field have elevated Real Madrid, making it a symbol of footballing heritage and global fandom.

3. FC Barcelona – Spain 

FC Barcelona, ranked as the third highest-earning club, boasting an impressive financial stature with a valuation of 5.51 billion USD (4.34 billion GBP) and a market value of 940 million USD (740 million GBP). Their yearly revenue reaches 867.90 million USD (684.05 million GBP), derived from match days, commercial events, and broadcasting rights. Fans aiming for a season ticket to experience the game pitchside at Camp Nou can expect to pay about 1,118 USD (881 GBP) on average.

Barcelona’s financial muscle is deeply linked to its history and the impact of stars like Lionel Messi. Before his move to Inter Miami, Messi was a name almost synonymous with the club itself. The Argentinian played a pivotal role in Barcelona’s worldwide popularity and financial success. The club has always been keen on investing in top-tier talent from a young age, a strategy that has paid off not just in wins but in establishing Barcelona as a symbol of top-flight football around the world.

4. Liverpool – UK

The Reds stand as the fourth wealthiest club, with a valuation of 5.29 billion USD (4.17 billion GBP) and a market value of 942 million USD (740 billion GBP). Their annual revenue hits 740.77 million USD (583.85 million GBP), and fans eager to watch games at Anfield need to spend about 1001 USD (793 GBP) for a season ticket.

Under the leadership of Jürgen Klopp, who recently announced his retirement, Liverpool has been a force in the Premier League, consistently challenging powerhouses like Arsenal and Manchester City. Their 2019-20 season victory, clinching the domestic title for the first 30 in thirty years, is a testament to the club’s strategy, spirit, and the influence of star players like Mo Salah, Luiz Diaz, and Virgil van Dijk. Liverpool’s passionate fan base and finances also underscore its status not just as a club, but as a global footballing institution.

5. Chelsea – UK

Chelsea, ranked as the fifth highest-earning club worldwide, combines a rich footballing heritage with solid financial performance. Valued at 3.10 billion USD (2.44 billion GBP) and generating yearly revenue of 639.35 million USD (503.91 million GBP), Chelsea has consistently been a powerhouse in football, especially during the era under José Mourinho (with fans even calling for his return).

Chelsea has been struggling for form on the field throughout the 2023 and 2024 seasons. However, they remain a strong contender in the Premier League. The club’s market value is impressive at 1.03 billion USD (0.81 billion GBP), with season tickets at Stamford Bridge fetching 973.78 USD (767.50 GBP), underscoring the team’s lasting appeal to fans and investors alike.

Soccer’s next top earners

6. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)

Dominating the French league, PSG’s financial might, with yearly revenue of 865 million USD (685 million GBP) and a valuation of 4.2 billion USD (3.3 billion GBP), is undeniable. The speculation around Kylian Mbappé possibly leaving for Real Madrid adds a layer of intrigue, but the club’s strength, highlighted by the past contributions of Lionel Messi and Neymar, remains solid.

7. Manchester United

Despite its struggles to regain the form of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, Manchester United remains a financial behemoth valued at 5.3 billion USD (4.2 billion GBP), with a yearly revenue of 891 million USD (705 million GBP). The club, supported by stars like Marcus Rashford, is in a constant battle to reach the heights of English and European football again.

8. Bayern Munich

Representing the best of German football, Bayern Munich’s valuation at 4.86 billion USD (3.85 billion GBP) reflects not just its dominance on the pitch but also its financial stability. The club’s success is a testament to the Bundesliga’s quality and the robust football culture in Germany.

9. Borussia Dortmund

With a valuation of 1.93 billion USD (1.53 billion GBP), Dortmund is celebrated for its vibrant playing style and dedication to developing young talent. This strategy has made them a staple in both domestic and European competitions.

10. Arsenal

Under Mikel Arteta’s guidance, Arsenal is witnessing a revival, challenging the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League. Valued at 2.26 billion USD (1.8 billion GBP) with a yearly revenue of 572 million USD (453 million GBP), Arsenal’s strategic player investments, like Kai Havertz, are beginning to yield significant returns.

See how other football clubs rank

RankClub Country 
11Al NassrSaudi Arabia
12Tottenham HotspurUK
13Everton FCUK
14Atlético de Madrid Spain
15Inter MilanItaly
16Al HilalSaudi Arabia
17AS RomaItaly
18Crystal PalaceUK
19Juventus FCItaly
20New York City FCU.S.


Clubs across the globe are upping their game, turning heads with blockbuster signings and ambitious strategies. In Saudi Arabia, Al Nassr and Al Hilal are in the spotlight, snatching up stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. They’re also investing billions into the game in a bid to challenge European soccer’s dominance.

Europe, however, is not stepping aside. The continent’s love affair with soccer runs deep, with clubs like Inter Milan, AS Roma, and Juventus FC epitomizing Italy’s fervor for the game. Atlético de Madrid stands as La Liga’s embodiment of relentless competition, keeping Europe at the heart of the soccer world.

Switching gears to the U.S., New York City FC’s massive valuation at 800 million USD highlights soccer’s booming business aspect stateside. The club, co-owned by City Football Group—the same owners as Manchester City—is among the top 20 globally. NYCFC showcases Major League Soccer’s (MLS) growing economic footprint, driven by smart investments and an expanding fan base.

The world’s highest-earning players: Cristiano Ronaldo scores big

The game has changed, and so has the paycheck. Today’s footballers stand as brands, earning salaries that reflect their talent and marketability on a global scale. So, who are the highest earners in this financial league?

We shed light on the staggering earnings from salaries, endorsements, and sponsorship deals.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – Saudi Pro League

Ronaldo stands at the top of the global soccer salary rankings, pulling in an annual 219 million USD (173 million GBP) at Al Nassr—making this the richest contract in sports history. Off the field, the Portuguese star’s influence is just as staggering, with endorsements adding another 60 million USD (47 million GBP) to his yearly income. It’s a financial empire befitting someone who commands the attention of 620 million Instagram followers, contributing to a net worth estimated at 500 million USD (363 million GBP). 

2. Karim Benzema – Saudi Pro League

Securing the second spot as the next highest-earning soccer player is Karim Benzema, with a yearly salary of 217 million USD (172 million GBP). Alongside being the striker for Saudi Pro League club Al-Ittihad, he is also a Ballon d’Or winner and boasts an impressive 75.4 million Instagram followers, making it no surprise that he also receives a further 8.5 million USD (6.7 million GBP) per year in brand deals from the likes of Adidas and Hyundai.

3. Neymar JR – ​​Saudi Pro League

Neymar JR, the forward for Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal, is the third-most compensated player earning a significant yearly salary of 162 million USD (128 million GBP). Capitalizing further on his fame, the Brazilian icon also receives around 19 million USD (15 million GBP) in endorsements, contributing to his overall net worth of ​​250 million USD (199 million GBP). With a dedicated Instagram following of 220 million, Neymar JR is a prime choice for partnership deals with huge brands like Puma, Qatar Airways, and Red Bull.

4. Kylian Mbappé – Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain’s forward, Kylian Mbappé emerged as the fourth highest-earning soccer player, with a yearly salary of 77 million USD (61.5 million GBP). Mbappé was one of the youngest players to ever feature on the cover of FIFA in 2021 and has endorsements with Nike, Hublot, and Oakley that equate to 20 million USD (15 million GBP) annually. Boasting these types of figures, it’s evident how the French player has racked up a net worth of 180 million USD (142 million GBP).

5. Lionel Messi – Major League Soccer

Lionel Messi the forward and captain for Inter Miami ranks as the fifth biggest earner, taking home an annual salary of 57 million USD (45 million GBP). But off the pitch, the Argentine player is equally as impressive. With 500 million Instagram followers and endorsements from Adidas, Pepsi, Budweiser, and Mastercard, Messi brings in a further 65 million USD (51 million GBP) in deals, further contributing to his hefty 650 million USD (510 million GBP) net worth. 

Transfer costs: Record deals

The world of soccer finance is deeply influenced by transfer fees, the prices clubs agree upon to acquire new talent. These fees constantly fluctuate, reflecting changes in the market, the financial health of clubs, and their strategic needs. Importantly, these transactions occur between clubs and are separate from the personal financial arrangements for players, which usually include their salaries, bonuses, and endorsements.

In the transfer market, it’s evident that exceptional talent demands exceptional fees. Here are the players whose moves have broken records and redefined the financial landscape of soccer:

1. Neymar JR

Taking the lead with the highest transfer fee across the board is Neymar JR, costing Paris Saint-Germain 238 million USD (220 million EUR), in his acquisition from Barcelona in 2017. Despite the player’s contract with PSG not due to end until 2025, Neymar JR left the club early in a move to Saudi Pro League club Al-Hilal. 

2. Kylian Mbappé 

Next up is Kylian Mbappé, bought by Paris Saint-Germain from AS Monaco for 193 million USD (180 million EUR). Signed at the tender age of 18 back in 2017, the French forward is still going strong at the club but is set to make a move to Real Madrid when his contract expires this summer. Because Mbappé will no longer be under contract with PSG by then, his move to Real Madrid will be considered a “free transfer”.

3. Ousmane Dembélé

Boasting the third highest transfer fee is Ousmane Dembélé, who was bought by Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of 145 million USD (135 million EUR) in 2017. During Dembélé’s time at Barcelona, the winger scored 40 goals and provided 40 assists over his 400 games.

4. Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho was sold by Liverpool to Barcelona for the fourth most expensive transfer fee at 145 million USD (135 million EUR), in 2018.  The midfielder stayed at the club until 2022 before making his move to Aston Villa. 

5. João Félix

Ranking fifth for having one of the highest transfer fees is João Félix, who made the move from Benfica to Atlético de Madrid for a transfer fee of 136 million USD (127 million EUR), in 2019. The winger or attacking midfielder is currently on loan at Barcelona from Atlético de Madrid, however, rumors suggest that this won’t become a permanent position due to Atlético de Madrid’s price being too high. 

Top earning soccer clubs: Newcastle United tops affordability for fans 

The affordability of being a soccer club fan varies significantly around the globe, with some teams being more accessible for all. Whether it’s budget-friendly merchandise, reasonably-priced tickets, or affordable authentic team shirts—we break down how much it costs to be a fan at some of the world’s highest-earning clubs.

Newcastle United
Newcastle United is ranked as one of the least expensive teams to support with an average cost of 133 USD (105.28 GBP). Fans can see The Magpies for around 23.47 USD (18.50 GBP), with the average price of a one-way ticket on public transport in Newcastle being an additional 2.92 USD (2.30 GBP). Supporters wanting to get their hands on an authentic soccer shirt can do so for 61.85 USD (48.75 GBP), with official merchandise items averaging 46.63 USD (36.75 GBP). 

Everton FC
Everton FC is another relatively affordable club for fans, with an average cost of 153.13 USD (121.20 GBP).  Fans wanting to wear an Everton shirt can purchase one for around 43.14 USD (34.00 GBP), while football merchandise goes for an average cost of 39.01 USD (30.75 GBP). Supporters wanting to watch The Toffees pitchside are looking at paying 69.78 USD (55.00 GBP) for general admission. The average one-way ticket on public transport in Liverpool costs about 2.54 USD (2.00 GBP). 

Borussia Dortmund
Moving to Germany, the average cost of being a fan of Borussia Dortmund is roughly 190.48 USD (150.77 GBP) per year. Supporters wanting to head down to Signal Iduna Park to watch the team play can purchase a general admission ticket for 47.96 USD (37.80 GBP). Transport for a one-way ticket in Dortmund costs roughly 3.36 USD (2.65 GBP), so fans can be expected to pay a similar price for visiting the stadium. The team’s shirt can also be picked up for 75.49 USD (59.50 GBP), while other team merch costs an average of 65.34 USD (51.50 GBP).

Crystal Palace
The South London soccer club Crystal Palace follows closely behind Dortmund for its affordability to fans, costing an average of 191.25 USD (152.05 BGP). The club’s soccer shirt can be bought for 65.34 USD (52.50 GBP), while the average cost of merchandise for Crystal Palace is around 50.71 USD (40.75 GBP). Supporters can get their hands on general admission tickets for 69.69 USD (56.00 GBP), with public transport in the city of London being as affordable as 3.48 USD (2.80 GBP).

West Ham UTD
Being a West Ham fan costs around 205.71 USD (163.55 GBP) on average, with general admission to the stadium costing 56.00 USD (45.00 GBP). Fanatics wanting to represent their team with a soccer shirt will be able to buy one for 87.12 USD (70.00 GBP) or alternatively buy some merchandise for the average price of 56.94 USD (45.75 GBP).

Liverpool F.C.
While The Reds aren’t the cheapest team to support on the list, being a fan of Liverpool F.C. is still relatively affordable at 222.58 USD (176.96 GBP) on average. Fans can purchase the club’s soccer shirt for 94.56 USD (75.98 GBP), or buy some merchandise for an average cost of 80.25 USD (64.48 GBP). Those wanting to watch the team play pitch side at Anfield, can buy general admission tickets for 42.94 USD (34.50 GBP).

Olympique Lyon
The average cost of being a fan of the French soccer club Olympique Lyon is around 235.58 USD (187.30 GBP). Tickets to the game will cost supporters 73.39 USD (58.97 GBP), and to arrive in style in the club’s shirt will come in at 71.86 USD (57.74 GBP) with a single piece of merchandise costing an average amount of 85.72 USD (68.88 GBP). 

Al Hilal
In Saudi Arabia, fans of Al Hilal will likely spend less than fans of Al Nassr, paying 241 USD (190.76 GBP) on average. Fans wanting to sport a soccer shirt from Al Hilal will have to fork out 98.82 USD (77.89 GBP), while other merchandise from the team can be purchased for the average price of around 75.00 USD (59.11 GBP). A ticket to see the team on home turf at King Fahd Stadium is 69.00 USD (54.38 GBP). Fans looking to get there on public transport pay anywhere from 1.04 USD (0.82 GBP), as this is the average cost of a one-way ticket in the kingdom.

Al Nassr
Being an Al Nassr fan is far more costly with supporters spending 670.41 USD (537.01 GBP) on average. General admission tickets to watch the game at Al-Awwal Park will cost 513.51 USD (412.61 GBP), and if fans want to show up wearing the team’s shirt, it will set them back 79.72 USD (64.06 GBP). Merchandise for the team can be purchased at a slightly more affordable average price of 69.10 USD (55.52 GBP).

AS Roma
Coming in at one of the most expensive costs on average is AS Roma at 842.02 USD (674.12 GBP). The popular club has a large celebrity following and was ranked as the 17th most valuable club in the world according to Forbes—so it’s no wonder general admission costs 670.30 USD (536.64 GBP) on average. Fans wanting to wear the team shirt can do so for 107.36 USD (85.95 GBP), and merchandise for the club costs an average of 62.77 USD (50.25 GBP) per item. 

Disclaimer: Soccer jerseys may be more affordable when opting for fan shirts, third-team kits, or older versions. Nevertheless, this analysis focuses on authentic jerseys marketed directly by the brands, ensuring uniformity with those of other teams within the same country. The evaluation of the purchasing prices for these authentic team shirts considers the country of each team’s origin.

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The methodology behind the “Global Soccer Finance Report 2024” integrates comprehensive financial analysis across the soccer industry, spanning club revenues, player salaries, player transfer fees, and the affordability of fan experiences. Data was compiled from a mix of authoritative financial reports, official soccer league announcements, and reputable sports news sources to ensure accuracy and reliability. The objective was to distill complex financial information into holistic, insightful, accessible findings that highlight the fiscal dynamics of clubs, the market value of players, and the economic footprint of fans worldwide.

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