The 10 highest-paid players in the MLS in 2023 ft Messi and Insigne (ranked) | OneFootball

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·24 September 2023

The 10 highest-paid players in the MLS in 2023 ft Messi and Insigne (ranked)

Article image:The 10 highest-paid players in the MLS in 2023 ft Messi and Insigne (ranked)


  • Key takeaways:
  • The MLS is becoming a formidable league, competing with the SPL to attract big names and disrupt the world of football.
  • The highest-paid players in the MLS include Christian Benteke, Douglas Costa, Hector Herrera, Sebastian Driussi, Federico Bernardeschi, Javier Hernandez, Lorenzo Insigne, Xherdan Shaqiri, Sergio Busquets, and Lionel Messi.
  • Messi is set to earn an eye-watering salary of $55 million annually, along with additional incentives and endorsement deals, solidifying his status as a global superstar.


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The MLS (Major League Soccer) is a division climbing the ladder and is very close to being described as a top 10 league in the world.

The MLS is competing with the SPL (Saudi Pro League) to attract big names to their teams as they battle to be the biggest league outside Europe. We’ve seen players from across the biggest leagues being targeted by the four big clubs in Saudi Arabia (Al-Nassr, Al Hilal, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli) as the Middle East nation tries to disrupt the world of football.

Before the SPL and the Chinese Super League (yes it still exists) the MLS was the place to go to become a star on handsome money outside of Europe. Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, Andrea Pirlo, Kaká and David Beckham are just some names the MLS managed to capture.

So here are the highest-paid players currently in the MLS as per the MLS Players Association.

10 Christian Benteke - D.C. United - $4,250,000 (£3.3m)

Benteke found the back of the net on 86 occasions in the 10 seasons he has played in the Premier League, playing for the likes of Aston Villa, Liverpool and Crystal Palace. The Belgium international left Selhurst Park for the United States’ capital last year and has already established himself as a fan favourite at Audi Field.

Life is going pretty great for Benteke as the 32-year-old has so far scored nine times in 31 MLS games while earning a cool $4,250,000 (£3.3m) a year.

9 Douglas Costa - LA Galaxy - $4,508,333 (£3.5m)

Costa is one of the biggest names currently in the MLS with the Brazilian winger having won multiple titles in Ukraine, Italy and Germany. LA Galaxy have had multiple stars wear the famous white, blue and gold colours including David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and now Costa.

Costa will be hoping he can add the U.S. as the next country he wins gold in as the Galaxy look to win a record-breaking sixth MLS Cup.

8 Hector Herrera - Houston Dynamo - $5,246,875 (£4.1m)

Herrera is only a few miles away from his native Mexico since joining Houston Dynamo on a free transfer from Atlético Madrid in March 2022.

Houston had a lacklustre campaign in 2022 as they finished second-bottom of the Western Conference but in 2023 they sit in fifth place just inside the playoffs.

Herrera is starting to show why Houston are paying the Mexican so much money as in his last 22 MLS matches he has produced 12 goal contributions from midfield.

7 Sebastian Driussi - Austin FC - $6,022,500 (£4.7m)

Driussi has been a key player for both River Plate and Zenit Saint Petersburg, two massive clubs outside the conventional top five leagues, the Argentine is now trying to dominate in his next continent for Austin FC.

Austin is co-owned by Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey, however, their roster isn’t very star-studded, unlike other MLS sides.

6 Federico Bernardeschi - Toronto FC - $6,295,381 (£4.9m)

Toronto transformed into a ‘little Italy’ in 2022, with Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Criscito and Bernardeschi all joining the Canadian side last year.

Many fans were shocked that Bernardeschi traded in the chance to win his fourth Serie A title with Juventus to join MLS side Toronto FC but as the saying goes ‘money talks’.

Bernardeschi took the league by storm in his debut season, scoring eight and assisting two in his first 13 games. The Italians’ goal-scoring prowess has dropped off over the past couple of months as he struggles to find the form he had when he first joined the Reds.

5 Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez - LA Galaxy - $7,443,750 (£5.8m)

Hernandez is one of the most lovable characters in football and is adored in his native Mexico where he is considered one of their greatest players of all time. LAFC have a big Mexican following, so it must pain some of the Falcons’ supporters that their city rivals have their country's all-time top goalscorer.

Hernandez’s contract reportedly expires at the end of the year 2023, so this may be the last time we can see Chicharito play football with a smile on his face.

4 Lorenzo Insigne - Toronto FC - $7,500,000 (£5.9m)

Fresh off winning the 2020 UEFA European Championship with Italy, Insigne broke hearts in Naples when he ditched his boyhood club for Toronto after 16 years at the Little Donkeys.

The transfer of Insigne made the 5ft4 winger the highest-paid player in the MLS at the time, with the $7,500,000 contract too good to refuse.

Toronto currently sit rock-bottom of the Eastern Conference with just three wins to their name from 26 games which makes the decision to bring Insigne and Bernardeschi to BMO Field as not a good one.

3 Xherdan Shaqiri - Chicago Fire FC - $8,153,000 (£6.4m)

Premier League fans will know that Shaqiri can always create something spectacular out of nothing. Shaqiri has an impressive CV as he’s won titles in England, Germany and Switzerland playing for some of the world's biggest clubs which has earned him a very good wage in Chicago.

Chicago Fire haven't won a MLS Cup since 1998, so they will be hoping that the $8m annual salary that they are paying Shaqiri will help them get somewhat closer to silverware.

In the 22 games that Shaqiri has played in the MLS this season, he has scored and assisted three times which may not be the best record for the third-best paid player in the league.

2 Sergio Busquets - Inter Miami - $10,000,000 (£7.87m)

Over the past month, Inter Miami have improved their squad drastically and now have one of the strongest sides in the MLS. Along with experienced MLS players such as Josef Martínez and DeAndre Yedlin, the Herons have added La Liga royalty to their ranks as Jordi Alba, Lionel Messi and Busquets now all play for the Florida-based club.

Busquets is considered by many as the greatest defensive midfielder of all time, in a career that has seen him win nine La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues and a FIFA World Cup, he definitely has the CV to support the argument.

After 18 years at Barcelona, Busquets joined Inter Miami on a two-and-a-half year deal worth a reported $10m a year. The chance to play in a city with a Hispanic culture and the opportunity to play with former teammates was more enticing to Busquets than a move elsewhere in Europe or Saudi Arabia.

1 Lionel Messi - Inter Miami - $55,000,000 (£43.3m)

There wasn't a doubt that it wasn't going to be anyone other than Messi.

It is reported that Messi will get a base salary between $50m (£38m) and $60m annually with further incentives on top of that, meaning the Barcelona legend will earn an eye-watering $163,690.47 (£128,000) every day while under contract at Inter Miami.

Messi will earn much more than his base salary of $55m as the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner will take home a percentage share of revenue and profits generated from shirt sales along with getting a good payday from Apple for new subscribers to their MLS Season Pass. All the further incentives in his contract may be the reason why he turned down a contract worth $1.3billion (£1bn) from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal.

The global superstar also makes $65M (£51m) from endorsements and sponsors such as Pepsi and Hard Rock Cafe and this will only increase as his brand skyrockets again at the of 36 thanks to his new American audience.

Some thought Messi would take his foot off the gas now that he has secured a hefty contract in a low-pressure environment but that couldn't be further from the truth. So far, Messi has 14 goal contributions in nine games in all competitions, proving he’s not here to take part but to take over America.

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