The 10 Highest-Paid Players in Major League Soccer, Ranked

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As the Major League Soccer season heats up we figured it was time to check in on who the highest-paid pro soccer players in this country's top league are.

The MLS is considered outside the "big four" sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) in this country by most fans and it certainly lacks the history those other leagues have, but the pay scale in the MLS is increasingly big-time and in the news.

It is no shock that global phenom Lionel Messi is the top earner in the MLS, but he's not the only "footballer" making big bucks this season. How much does Messi make anyway? And who are the nine other guys on this year's list of top 10 earners in the MLS? Keep on reading!

For the purposes of this piece, we're going with the 10 highest-paid in "cash ranking," ie, what these stars will take home this season.

All stats via Spotrac.

10. Carles Gil, New England Revolution, $4.452 Million

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A 31-year-old Spaniard whose last team was most recent stop was Deportivo la Coruña of La Liga, Gil joined the Revolution in 2019 and has been the team's top player ever since. He signed a three-year contract in March of this year that should keep him in New England through the 2026 season—and in at least the league's top 20 highest-paid players through the length of the deal.

9. Hany Mukhtar, Nashville SC, $5.212 Million

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The most-accomplished and highest-paid player in Nashville SC's relatively young history, Mukhtar is a 29-year-old German whose last stop was Brøndby in the Danish League, where he starred from 2016-2019. Mukhtar debuted for Nashville in 2020 and after several productive seasons, signed a four-year contract extension earlier this year.

8. Héctor Herrera, Houston Dynamo, $5.247 Million

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A 34-year-old Mexican International, Herrera is actually in the third and likely final year of a deal he inked before the 2022 season. A midfielder who often wears the captain's armband for the Dynamo, Herrera came to Houston after a three-season run with European power Atletico Madrid of La Liga.

7. Emil Forsberg, New York Red Bulls, $6.036 Million

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Despite a history that dates back to the MetroStars named that launched with the MLS in 1996, this Jersey-based franchise has never won an MLS Cup. The team's latest push for relevance was the hefty signing, in December of last year, of Forsberg, an attacking midfielder with 88 Caps for the Swedish National Team.

6. Federico Bernadeschi, Toronto FC, $6.295 Million

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Fresh off a huge game for his Toronto FC, Bernadeschi is a highly decorated scorer from Italy who joined his current team from Juventus(!!) on a five-year deal before the 2022 MLS season.

5. Sebastian Driussi, Austin FC, $6.723 Million

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An electric Argentinian who came up with River Plate in his native Buenoa Aires, the 28-year-old Driussi later spent three seasons playing for Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia before joining MLS expansion side Austin FC for the club's launch season of 2021 and then signing the extension he's playing on now before the 2023 season.

4. Xherdan Shaqiri, Chicago Fire, $8.153 Million

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A 32-year-old Swiss international, Shaqiri played all over Europe in the biggest leagues in the world (Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga then Inter Milan in Serie A then Stoke City and Liverpool in the Premier League and finally, Lyon in Ligue 1) before joining Chicago Fire on a three-year deal in 2022 that could be wrapped up this season.

3. Sergio Busquets, Inter Miami FC, $8.775 Million

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Considered one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the history of the sport, Busquets spent 16 years with Spanish and global power FC Barcelona, collecting 143 caps for the senior Spanish National Team before transferring to Inter Miami in 2023 to co-pilot the suddenly elite south Florida squad alongside you-know-who...

2. Lorenzo Insigne, Toronto FC, $15.4 Million

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One of just two MLS players making eight digits (you-know-who is next and the other), and the second Toronto FC player on this list alongside his countryman Bernadeschi, Insigne is 5' 4" sparkplug who came to fame with Italian side Napoli and the Italian National Team before joining Toronto FC in January, 2022 as the then-highest-paid player in Major League Soccer.

1. Lionel Messi, Inter Miami FC, $20.447 Million

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Imagine coming to the MLS as by far the most-hyped player in the history of the league and by far the highest-paid player in the history of the league and, in less than a calendar year, exceeding expectations and seeming underpaid? That's what "Leo" has done, drawing record crowds everywhere he plays and bringing Inter Miami to the U.S. Open Cup final last season and to the top of the MLS standings so far this season. An MLS Cup is very much in play for this legendary European club player and reigning World Cup champion with his native Argentina.

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