The FIFA World Cup features the best national teams and many of the best footballers in the world. Like the Summer and Winter Olympics, the World Cup comes once every four years. Unlike the Olympics (minus competitions that include NHL and NBA players), the top athletes who participate in a World Cup are also handsomely paid for what they achieve outside of international duty. Here are the top 10 richest footballers in the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
10. Gianluigi Buffon — Italy — Net Worth: $50 million
Buffon could, all things considered, be the greatest goalkeeper to ever – ever – play the position. He has been named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record eight times. He has won the World Cup with Italy (2006). Buffon even stuck it out with Juventus when the club was relegated following an ugly betting scandal when better offers were on the table.
It’s a shame that age has to catch up with the legends of sports. Buffon, 36 years old, will be playing in his last World Cup. There are rumors out that there he could retire as soon as next year.
9. Fernando Torres — Spain — Net Worth: $50 million
Torres has, since joining Chelsea from Liverpool in 2011, become more of a living punchline than one of the top scorers in world football. While he has enjoyed some highlight reel moments in European competitions, he is more known for missing the target.
That has once again been the case during the 2014 World Cup.
Torres’ future role with his international team, if any exists, remains in question. Spain were bounced from the 2014 FIFA World Cup after just two matches. It is expected that the 2010 world champs are set to hit the reboot button and in a big way.
8. Steven Gerrard — England — Net Worth: $55 million
Seeing as how England made a very disappointing early exit in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, these past few months will be days that Gerrard won’t recall fondly. He was guilty of what is now an infamous slip in a match versus Chelsea, a miscue that all but eliminated Liverpool from contending for the Premier League title.
He may find that he never again plays in the elimination stages of the World Cup.
Regardless of what happened this June, Gerrard will go down as one of the greats of his time. The FA Cup, League Cup, FA Community Shield, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup; Gerrard has hoisted them all in celebration.
7. Frank Lampard — England — Net Worth: $60 million
Lampard‘s net worth will likely only grow over the next couple of years. The soon-to-be 36-year-old is apparently set to join expansion Major League Soccer side New York City Football Club next spring for the team’s initial season in the North American top-flight. How much Lampard will make via that contract and through any endorsement deals he may sign is not yet known.
It also isn’t known what Lampard’s exact role in the England squad will be. This is sure to be the veteran’s final World Cup before he heads off for some retirement football in MLS. Regardless of England’s disappointing tournament, you can be sure that Lampard has millions of reasons to feel content this summer.
6. Yaya Toure — Ivory Coast — Net Worth: $70 million
Toure has, over the past several years, emerged as one of the top overall players in all of English football. He netted 20 tallies for Manchester City in Premier League play last season. The box-to-box midfielder has played a significant role in City winning the EPL title twice in the past three seasons, and in the Sky Blues also hoisting the FA Cup and League Cup in the past several years.
Toure has not always found ways to transition his club form over to international play. That could again be the case during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Toure, who turned 31 years old in May, is reportedly both banged up and fatigued, to the point that he could miss the start of the upcoming Premier League campaign.
5. Samuel Eto’o — Cameroon — Net Worth: $75 million
The so-called “old man” has, on multiple occasions, proven in 2014 that he still has the goods to find the back of the net for club and for country. Eto’o, throughout the years, has also grown a reputation as being a player more concerned about No. 1 than about those playing alongside of him. He played his club football with Chelsea in 2013-14, and Eto’o has been linked with potential moves to Arsenal and to Everton.
We won’t see a lot of him in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Cameroon are arguably the worst team in the entire competition. They will be a three-and-done side in June.
4. Didier Drogba — Ivory Coast — Net Worth: $90 million
Unless he has played for a rival club of that which you call your own, you absolutely have to love Drogba. The guy is a class act on and off of the pitch. He has a true love for the game and for life, in general. Now a catalyst more so than a cornerstone, fans should enjoy watching Drogba in a World Cup while they can.
The Ivory Coast striker turned 36 years old earlier this year. It is widely expected that he will never again feature in a World Cup. While he has, for several years, been linked with joining Major League Soccer, it is more likely that he will cash in on one final major payday in either Europe or the Middle East.
3. Wayne Rooney — England — Net Worth: $95 million
Rooney is, at this stage of his career, sometimes an easy target for the English press. It’s not always deserved. He has, after all, scored more goals in competitive games for England than has any other player. Rooney also sometimes doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his hold-up play and for his ability to pick out a pass in the attacking third.
All of that said, this could be his last chance to silence critics while on world football’s biggest stage. Rooney will turn 29 years old this coming October. He could by the time 2018 comes around, be playing his club football in Major League Soccer.
2. Lionel Messi — Argentina — Net Worth: $180 million
Messi, who was banged up during parts of the 2013-14 European season, remains a truly special player, one for the ages. The 26-year-old has just about done it all throughout his career. He has worn an Olympic gold medal. He has hoisted the La Liga and Champions League trophies. Messi has been named the best footballer in the world on three occasions.
He has never, however, lifted the World Cup in celebration.
The Argentina squad, with Messi, is in the small group of favorites to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup. They have both talent and depth. Messi, like Ronaldo, is trying to check one more box on his career sheet, and the Barca star is feeling just fine as the start of summer looms ahead.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo — Portugal — Net Worth: $230 million
Mr. Ronaldo, currently the top footballer on planet earth, has had somewhat of a roller coaster spring. Real Madrid, the club for whom Ronaldo plays, lost out on the La Liga title, but they then went on to win the Champions League against rivals Atletico Madrid. Ronaldo buried a penalty late in that match that was more so a final nail in Atleti’s coffin than it was one that brought the trophy to Real, but it still had to be an incredible moment for a truly great player.
Ronaldo has, since then, been dealing with a serious knee problem. He had apparently returned to full fitness while training with Portugal in New Jersey, but Ronaldo has since twice re-aggravated that injury. It’s clear that he’s not a hundred percent healthy and without him at his best Portugual’s chances of advancing are slim.
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