Saudi Arabia seems to benefit from bottomless wells of foreign currency, from which it draws endlessly. Its strategy of economic diversification is supported by the $620 billion Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund (SSAF). A godsend for footballers, who are paid handsomely to develop the Saudi showcase. Gone are the days of career plans for footballers, and now there's a mad dash for money. 80% of the world's 10 highest-paid players now play in the Saudi Pro League. Who are they?
Marca newspaper has published its list of the world's highest-paid players. And unsurprisingly, players based in Saudi Arabia dominate the ranking. There are eight of them. A player who plays in Europe for a Qatari-flagged club and one who plays in the USA complete the list.
The world's highest-paid Africans
Three African players also feature in the top 10 best-paid players in the world. Senegal's Kalidou Koulibaly (Al-Hilal) closes the gap (10th). The former Chelsea player earns 30 million a year. Algerian Ryad Mahrez is in 9th place. The Al-Ahli player earns 35 million euros a year. The last African in the ranking is Sadio Mané (Senegal) in 7th place. The Al-Nassr striker earns 40 million.
The rest of the Top 10 highest-paid players in the world
The rest of the ranking is occupied by Jordan Henderson 8th (Al-Ettifaq) who earns 40 million euros.Lionel Messi, who has not succumbed to Saudi temptation and plays for Inter Miami FC in the United States, is 6th.He earns 45 million euros.
Kylian Mbappé is the only player playing on European soil. The PSG player is ranked 5th in the world with 70 million euros. To explain the size of his salary, it has to be said that his club is owned by the Emir of Qatar and like Saudi Arabia's current strategy, PSG attracts big-name players with huge salaries to make up for the lack of appeal of France's Ligue 1. French international N'golo Kanté, who plays for Al-Ittihad, is 4th. He earns 100 million euros. The top three Brazilian Neymar, who recently joined Al-Hilal, occupies the foot of the podium. His salary is 100 million euros, plus other benefits and astronomical bonuses.
Karim Benzema of Al-Ittihad, the reigning Ballon D'Or winner, is the world's 2nd-highest paid player. The Frenchman of Algerian origin pockets 200 million euros.
The first major player to join the Saudi Pro League, world star Cristiano Ronaldo is logically 1st in this classification. He earns 300 million euros a year.