Highest Paid MLS Players 2022
With more money coming into the MLS than ever before, players’ wages have been increasing. Especially when it comes to foreign stars joining the league.
So, who are the highest-paid MLS players? We explored the MLS Player Association’s salary guide to find out who sits at the top of this list.
Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs have a salary cap, but certain players can cross the line and earn more than others over the years. Here are the eight top paid soccer players in the MLS:
Lorenzo Insigne – $13,000,000
Lorenzo Insigne is an Italian striker who will sign for Toronto FC in the summer of 2022. He is from Naples and has played for his hometown club since 2006, signing at 15.
Insigne is one of the most prolific goal scorers in Serie A history due to being around since he was a teenager. The Italian striker is known for his vision, creativity, and finishing ability and for being an excellent dribbler.
He will become the MLS’ highest-paid player when he joins Toronto FC in July on a $13 million per year contract over four years. He is still only 30 and could’ve continued in Italy, but the money and the new challenge were clearly very tempting.
Xherdan Shaqiri – $8,153,000
The former Liverpool player Xherdan Shaqiri joined Chicago Fire in February and immediately became the highest-paid MLS player. That is until Insigne’s contract begins.
The Swiss international has a base salary of $7.35 million per year and this can rise to $8.153 million for his total compensation.
He has a lot to offer as he’s an experienced Premier League soccer player with both Stoke City and Liverpool. He might be short, but he’s strong with tricky feet and has an amazing left foot.
Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) – $6,000,000
The Mexican international is the third highest-paid player in Major League Soccer. His guaranteed compensation is the same as his salary which is $6 million per year.
He signed a five-year contract with the Galaxy in 2019 after spending time in the Premier League with Manchester United and West Ham United, as well as at time at Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen too.
Chicharito continues his prolific goal-scoring form even at 33-years old and remains on course to break the MLS record for goals scored in a season.
Gonzalo Higuain – $5,793,750
The former Argentinian striker is the fourth highest-paid player in Major League Soccer. He joined David Beckham’s Inter Miami in 2020 after a long career in Europe.
Higuain earns $5,793,750 annually from Inter Miami, with his current contract expiring in 2022. He spent most of his time with Real Madrid in Spain, but also played for Napoli and Juventus in Italy.
He has won many awards in his career, including two Serie A titles and one Coppa Italia. He is also a three-time UEFA Team of the Year member and has been named Serie A Footballer of the Year twice.
Alejandro Pozuelo – $4,693,000
The 30-year-old is the fifth highest-paid player in MLS and plays for Toronto FC. He signed with them in March 2019, and he has been worth every cent so far.
The Spaniard has been one of the most creative players in the league since his arrival. His current contract is worth $4.7 million annually.
Jozy Altidore – $4,264,963
The 32-year-old is one of the highest-paid soccer players in the MLS and the first American on the list. He now plays for New England Revolution after spending six years with Toronto FC.
His salary with New England Revolution is $4,264,963.00 and then he’ll also earn money for the games he plays for the US national team.
In addition to his salary, he also has sponsorship deals with Nike, PepsiCo, and EA Sports. So, Altidore’s net worth is definitely much higher than his salary as you’d imagine.
Josef Martínez – $4,141,667
Josef Martínez is a Venezuelan striker who has been with Atlanta United since 2017, first on loan and then permanently. His current annual salary is $4,141,667 making him the seventh highest paid soccer player in the MLS.
He spent most of his career playing in Switzerland and Italy before joining Atlanta United where he has been for five years now.
Carlos Vela – $4,050,000
The Mexican international is one of the top soccer players right now. He plays for Los Angeles FC as an attacking midfielder or forward in Major League Soccer.
Also, he had played professional soccer since 2004 when he signed with Arsenal F.C. It was where he became the youngest player to ever score a goal for the club at 17 years old.
The Mexican international joined LAFC back in 2018 and signed a four-year contract worth close to $6.3 million per year at the time. His current salary though is lower at $4,050,000, but he still remains in the top 10 highest-paid MLS players.
MLS Referee Salary
Soccer in the United States isn’t the most popular sport compared to football so what is the MLS referee salary when compared to other sports officials? We’ve already looked at NFL referee salary in another article so make sure to check that out too.
In the United States, Major League Soccer (MLS) referees earn an average salary of $33,000 per year. The MLS is the top soccer league in the country, and referees officiate matches between teams in the league.
This is a basic salary and then on top they also receive bonuses for each game they officiate. MLS referees also receive a per diem allowance for each day they work.
There are a number of factors that influence a referee’s salary, including the level of the league they are officiating, the number of years of experience, and their geographical location.
In the MLS, there exists three categories of referees: professional, women, and amateur.
The professional referees are the highest-paid, at $55,000 annually. They are full-time employees of the MLS.
Women referees are also full-time employees of the MLS, and they officiate some of the league’s games. They are paid less than the professional referees, but more than the amateurs.
The amateurs earn about $150 per match, however, they do not get paid match fees by the MLS. The annual salary works out to be about $5,000 as it’s part-time work and they’re doing it to get more experience under their belt.
Comparison between MLS Referee Salary and Premier League Refs
As we mentioned already, soccer isn’t the most popular sport in the States compared to in Europe where football (soccer) is. This obviously means that the referees don’t get paid as much in the MLS as the Premier League and other European league referees do.
The average salary of a referee in the Premier League is £70,000 ($85,000), whilst it is $33,000 in the MLS. This is more than double the average salary of referees in the Premier League. Although, top refs can reach over $55,000 a year, especially with bonuses on top.
American Investors That Own Premier League Soccer Clubs
The Premier League is the most popular soccer league in the world. Over 6 billion people tuned in to at least one minute of last season’s action across the globe. This is why the league remains on such a high pedestal compared to others.
With more foreign investment constantly coming into the league this isn’t surprising to see. Over the past 5-10 years, there has been increased investment from United States businessmen. Even now with Chelsea up for sale, the majority with their names in the hat are US sports and entertainment groups.
Today, we look at some Premier League clubs with American owners and how much they invested.
Glazers (Manchester United)
The Glazers have owned Manchester United since 2005. The owners oversaw one of the most successful periods in the club’s history when Sir Alex Ferguson was still in charge.
Moreover, the Glazer family bought Manchester United for £790m in May 2005, the latest stage in a takeover process that had begun more than a year earlier.
In addition, the Glazers’ takeover faced angry fans who were unhappy that an American family took over the club. That anger has continued to this day and with Man Utd going 10 years now without winning the league, it’s no surprise that the fans are asking questions of the owners.
Fenway Sports Group (Liverpool)
Fenway Sports Group entered the Premier League in 2010 when it bought Liverpool and is one of the more low-key owners in the English top flight.
FSG’s portfolio of companies includes Red Sox and Fenway Park, Liverpool, Roush Fenway Racing, FS1, 80% of New England Sports Network (NESN), and 50% of Nascar team Roush Fenway Racing.
It also holds a stake in a rival baseball team the New York Yankees. Former baseball executive Mike Gordon runs the group.
They have made smart investments in bringing top-quality talent to Anfield. Although key players such as Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling have been sold over the years. They did help bring Jürgen Klopp to the club as manager.
Josh Harris, David Blitzer, and John Textor (Crystal Palace)
In 2015, Crystal Palace became the latest addition to the list of American owners. This was when American investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer bought a combined 36% of the club giving them both seats on the club’s board of directors.
The company behind their ventures is Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and they are also the principal owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. The deal at the time was reportedly worth $90 million.
The other Crystal Palace owners include Steve Parish who is still the club’s chairman and John Textor who bought a 40% stake in the club in August 2021.
Textor has also made it clear that he wants a larger stake in the club and this may become possible soon as Harris and Blitzer are one of the front-runners for the Chelsea ownership. The Premier League wouldn’t let them own shares in both London clubs so it’s likely that Textor would buy up their shares.
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (Arsenal)
The Kroenke family, which owns the Los Angeles Rams and Colorado Avalanche, bought an initial 9.9% stake in Arsenal in 2007. Ten years later, it increased its interest to nearly 30%, and as of August 2018, it holds 67%.
Stan Kroenke, 71, is worth $8.3 billion. Through Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, his Denver-based company, the Missouri native also has stakes in the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and MLS’s Colorado Rapids.
KSE also operates several outdoor sports networks (Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel). This is an outdoor sports production company (KSE Media Ventures), and a few ticketing agencies.
ALK Capital (Burnley)
ALK Capital was founded by Alan Pace. Pace used to be the Utah Jazz basketball team and Real Salt Lake soccer team CEO. The firm acquired an 80% stake in Burnley FC in December 2020. After the investment, ALK Capital installed a new board at the club and named Alan Pace as the new chairman. The main goal for ALK Capital is to expand Burnley’s global fan base.
The sale price remains undisclosed. However, as part of the deal, ALK converted all of Burnley’s outstanding debt into equity in the club. Also, provided cash for working capital purposes. Thus, ensuring that Burnley could pay its bills for at least the next 18 months.
The recent controversial decision to sack manager Sean Dyche has put the fans against the current owners though. Especially since they didn’t have a manager in place to take over straight away.
This highlights that American businesses are investing in Premier League clubs and are steadily increasing their investments year over year. Many wouldn’t have believed that a US investment firm would buy Burnley years ago, but they did.
We’ll also have to wait and see who wins the Chelsea FC takeover as it looks like they’ll be another Premier League club owned by American investment.
Premier League Referee Salary
The Premier League is the richest soccer league globally, with total revenue of around £5.14 billion. Everyone knows how much the players earn, but what about the referees? How much do they earn? And how much do they get paid for their performances?
The Premier League previously announced that they are considering introducing performance-related pay into their refereeing system. The idea behind this is that referees’ rewards will be based on their good performances and punished for their bad ones. This is rather than receiving a set fee regardless of how well they do.
This new system is under trial in the Championship before moving to Premier League referees from next season onwards. The hope is that it will encourage more high-quality officials to apply for positions within the top flight. Also, help improve on-pitch standards overall.
How Much Do Premier League Referees Make?
Referees in the Premier League earn handsomely for their services. According to Sporting Free, there is a claim that Premier League referees earn £1,500 per match. This adds to their estimated salary range of between £70,000 — £200,000 ($85,000 – $245,000). This does not include a yearly retainer of £38,500 to £42,000.
The overall fees range on a season-long basis and are payable to referees who officiate in the top flight of English football. Premier League referees are part-time Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) employees. They work in the week and receive their match fee on a Friday night after a game.
However, this isn’t the only source of income that referees receive. They also receive additional payments for each match they officiate. Moreover, they earn a share of TV rights money. Additionally, a share of commercial revenue is from merchandise sales and endorsements by companies such as Adidas and Umbro.
The Premier League ranks as one of the most popular leagues globally and remains so since its inception in 1992. In 2019-20, it generated revenues worth £2.3 billion in broadcasting fees. Moreover, it generated up to £1.6 billion in commercial and sponsorship deals. In addition, matchday revenues run as high as £599 million.
What do Premier League Referee Salaries Include?
The average salary for a Premier League referee is £70,000 per year. This figure can increase significantly for referees selected to officiate in European competitions or at the international level.
Premier League referees earn for 14 weeks of work each season. However, they typically work more hours than that due to extra training sessions and match preparation.
In addition to their match fees, Premier League referees receive bonuses for every game they officiate during the season. They also receive compensation for travel costs and accommodation expenses while on duty away from home and contribute to their pension scheme.
Who is the Highest Paid Referee in Premier League?
The highest-paid Premier League referee is Mike Dean, who makes an annual salary of £200,000 ($245,000). Although he was refereeing for over 20 years and has now retired at the end of the 2021/22 season.
Apart from being the highest-paid Premier League referee, he is also one of only three British officials placed on FIFA’s list of top ten officials worldwide. Dean is a popular figure in refereeing matches in the Champions League and Europa League competitions.
He began his career as a referee in local leagues and eventually moved to officiate in the Football League. In addition, he earned a promotion to the Premier League list of referees in 2002 and has only just retired after 22 years. However, he will continue officiating in the VAR room.
The Premier League referees are the highest-paid referees in England, and with good reason. The amount of money involved in the Premier League makes it a high-stakes enterprise.