Lionel Messi tops MLS salary list at US$20.45 million

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) jogs to his position during the first half of an MLS soccer match against Sporting Kansas City, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (Nick Tre. Smith/AP)

NEW YORK — Lionel Messi’s annualized pay from his Major League Soccer contract with Inter Miami is just over $20.4 million in his first full season, exceeding the payrolls of all but three other teams in the league.

Messi joined Inter Miami last summer and has a base salary of $10.4 million and annualized compensation of $20,446,667, the MLS Players Association said Thursday in its first salary release of 2024.

Those figures cover what Messi receives from his MLS deal, which runs through the 2025 season, including any marketing bonus and agent’s fees. They do not account for any additional agreements with the team or its affiliates, or for any performance bonuses.

Messi, who turns 37 next month, has 10 goals this season, one shy of the MLS lead.

Miami leads the league with a a record $41.7 million payroll, double all but Toronto ($31.4 million) and Chicago ($25.1 million). Nashville’s roster, at $21.4 million, also earns more than Messi.

Messi’s teammates include midfielder Sergio Busquets ($8,774,996) and forward Luis Suárez and left back Jordi Alba ($1.5 million each).

St. Louis has the lowest payroll among the 29 teams at $12 million, just below Salt Lake and San Jose at $13.6 million each.

The LA Galaxy cut payroll from $23.5 million at the start of last year to $17.9 million and Atlanta from $21.3 million to $16.7 million. Toronto boosted payroll from a league-high $25.7 million at the opening of 2023 and Nashville increased from $14 million.

Toronto winger Lorenzo Insigne is second in compensation at $15.4 million, followed by Busquets, Chicago midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri at $8,153,000, Austin midfielder Sebastián Driussi at $6,722,500, Toronto winger Federico Bernardeschi at $6,295,381 and New York Red Bulls midfielder Emil Forsberg at $6,035,625.

Among this year’s MLS newcomers are Chicago forward Hugo Cuypers ($3,528,044) and LAFC goalkeeper Hugo Lloris ($350,000).

The average base salary of $513,075 for senior rosters players, not including designated players who count only partly under a team’s salary cap, was up 8.4% from $473,292 at the start of last year. Total guaranteed compensation averaged $594,389.

Total compensation of all signed players was $519 million, up 12.8% from $460 million at the start of last season and from $394 million at the beginning of 2022.

Among U.S. national team players, Nashville defender Walker Zimmerman had total compensation of $3,456,979, Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira $2,204,000, Seattle winger Jordan Morris $1,693,750, Colorado midfielder Djordje Mihailovic $1,675,000, Cincinnati defender Miles Robinson $1,578,580, Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan $1.541,000 and Cincinnati right back DeAndre Yedlin $898,750.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.