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27 Highest Paid MLS Players in 2023 (+Their Salary)

Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer, or MLS, provides high-level soccer competition in America and has become increasingly popular in recent years, with improved television deals bringing more eyes to the sport. As a result, a growing number of players have become very high-earning people indeed. 

In this article, we’ll discuss essential facts about each player and provide more context for their earnings. It’s a great article to read if you’re interested in MLS competition but haven’t watched in a few years or want to get into this league and sport at a higher level. 

How We Compiled the List? 

We took a meticulous approach when compiling this list, using these steps:

  1. Check MLS’ official site listing the top 50 MLS players playing right now
  2. Search various listicle sites to find out which soccer players are famous now 
  3. Find which players are earning the most through various listicle sites
  4. Note: popular players may vary from the best players, though skill does matter
  5. Research each player, including their salary, age, nationality, and other important facts 
  6. Find their social media sites and use them to calculate popularity in more depth 
  7. Rank them based on how much money they make in their base salary, not guaranteed

Here are the 26 Highest Paid MLS Player

Take a deep look into this in-depth and interesting article that highlights the highest-earning soccer players in the MLS. It should provide the context you need to understand each of these competitors.

27. Giorgio Chiellini

  • Age: 39 years old 
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Current Club: Los Angeles FC
  • Annual Salary: According to Salary Sport, 936,000 GBP ($1.14 million)
  • Contract Length: At least through the end of 2023
  • Net Worth: According to Salary Sport, 40 million GBP ($49 million)
  • Achievements: 1 Player of the Year award,1 European Champion win, 9 Italian Champion wins, 5 Italian Cup wins, 5 Italian Super Cup wins, 1 MLS Cup Champion win, 1 Supporters’ Shield win, 1 Italienischer Zweitligameister win
  • Popularity: 5.3 million Instagram followers

As one of the older MLS players on this list, Chiellini had a legendary career in Italy and Juventus and has become a strong mentor and role model to younger players in his waning years.

26. Thiago Almada

  • Age: 22
  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Current Club: Atlanta United, Argentina National Team
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $1.65 million base and $2.3 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2026
  • Net Worth: According to Soccer Souls, 2.3 million GBP ($2.89 million)
  • Achievements: 1 FIFA World Cup win
  • Popularity: 1.5 million Instagram followers

As the first active MLS player to win the World Cup, Almada has dramatically impacted the MLS in recent years, though UD Almeria of La Liga threatens to snatch him from the league.

25. Luciano Acosta

  • Age: 29
  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Current Club: FC Cincinnati
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.16 million base
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2023
  • Net Worth: According to Players Wiki, $2 million 
  • Achievements: 1 Supporters’ Shield win, 2 MLS Best XI wins, 2 MLS All-Star wins, 2 MLS Player of the Month wins, 1 MLS Goal of the Year win 
  • Popularity: 101K Instagram followers

Luciano Acosta is something of a hidden treasure in the MLS who provides a stable presence in the mid-field, in spite of his relatively older age.

24. Ezequiel Barco

  • Age: 24
  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Current Club: Atlanta United FC
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.2 million base and guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2023
  • Net Worth: According to Taddlr, $500K
  • Achievements: 1 MLS Cup Champion, 1 US Open Cup win, 1 Copa Sudamericana win, 1 Argentinian Champion win, 1 Campeones Cup win
  • Popularity: player's fan following and popularity in social media (link the profiles)

Ezequiel Barco is a major presence in Argentina’s youth soccer Under-20 team and transitioned to the MSL to sharpen his skills before competing in higher-earning leagues.

23. Evander

  • Age: 25 years old
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Current Club: Portland Timbers
  • Annual Salary: According to Biz Journals, $2.2 million base
  • Contract Length: According to Transfer Markt, through 2026
  • Net Worth: According to Vim Buzz, $1 million 
  • Achievements: 1 Danish Champion win, 2 Danish Cup wins
  • Popularity: 118K Instagram followers

Rocking a single name like his hero Pele, Evander da Silva Ferreira is a Brazilian master who plays as an attacking midfielder. 

22. Alan Pulido

  • Age: 32
  • Nationality: Mexico
  • Current Club: Sporting Kansas City
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.2 million, both base and guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2023
  • Net Worth: According to Players Wiki, 3.6 million GBP ($4.42 million)
  • Achievements: 1 Top Goal Scorer win, 1 Greek Champion win, 1 Concacaf Champions League win, 1 Mexican Champion Apertura win, 1 Mexican Clausura Champion win, 2 Mexican Cup Clausura win, 
  • Popularity: 941K Instagram followers

Over the years, Alan Pulido has earned a great reputation as an international player and a key part of the Sporting Kansas City team, though his contract is up in 2023.

21. Karol Swiderski

  • Age: 26
  • Nationality: Polish
  • Current Club: Charlotte FC, Poland National Team
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.2 million base and $2.25 guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2026
  • Net Worth: According to Players Wiki, $10 million
  • Achievements: 1 Greek Champion win, 2 Greek Cup wins
  • Popularity: 178 Instagram followers

Though Swiderski doesn’t have the major international fan base of other MLS players, he has quietly become one of the league's most reliable and effective competitors.

20. Jozy Altidore

  • Age: 34
  • Nationality: American
  • Current Club: No current club due to free agent status
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.38 million base and $2.9 million guaranteed in 2023
  • Contract Length: No current contract due to free agent status
  • Net Worth: According to Celebrity Net Worth, $16 million
  • Achievements: 2 Footballer of the Year wins, 1 Top Goal Scorer win, 1 Gold Cup win, 1 Dutch Cup win, 1 MLS Cup Champion win, 1 Supporters’ Shield win, 2 Canadian Cup wins
  • Popularity: 251K Instagram followers

Altidore is a legendary American player who debuted professionally at 16 but doesn’t have a contract: he earns a base salary for his final year with the New York Revolution.

19. Ryan Gauld 

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Current Club: Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.4 million and $2.5 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2024
  • Net Worth: According to Taddler, about $0.88 million
  • Achievements: 1 Portuguese Cup win, 2 Canadian Cup wins
  • Popularity: 12K Instagram followers

As one of the most popular Scottish players in the world, Ryan Gauld brings a uniquely intelligent and tactical approach that’s earned him the nickname “The Scottish Messi.”

18. Gustavo Bou

  • Age: 33
  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Current Club: New England Revolution
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.5 million base and $2.67 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2023
  • Net Worth: According to Players Wiki, $5 million
  • Achievements: 1 Top Goal Scorer win, 1 Supporters’ Shield Winner, 2 Argentinian Champion win
  • Popularity: 106K Instagram followers

With the nickname La Pantera, Gustavo Bou is a sterling MLS player who provides the New England Revolution with excellent play based on clever strategy.

17. Nicolas Lodeiro

  • Age: 34 years old
  • Nationality: Uruguayan
  • Current Club: Seattle Sounders F.C., Uruguay National Team
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.64 million base and $3.25 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Transfer Markt, through 2023
  • Net Worth: According to Players Wiki, $2 million
  • Achievements: 1 Copa America win, 2 Dutch Champion wins, 1 Dutch Cup win, 1 Concacaf Champions League wins, 2 MLS Cup Champion wins, 1 Uruguayan Champion win, 1 Argentinian Champion win
  • Popularity: 206K Instagram followers

After making a considerable name for himself in the 2010 World Cup, Lodeiro has earned multiple MLS championships and is known for his playmaking talents.

16. Raúl Ruidíaz

  • Age: 33 years old
  • Nationality: Peruvian
  • Current Club: Seattle Sounders, Peru National Team
  • Annual Salary: According to Players Bio, $2.47 million base and $3.2 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2024
  • Net Worth: $16 million
  • Achievements: 3 Top Goal Scorer wins, 1 Player of the Year win, 1 Concacaf Champions League win, 1 MLS Cup Champion win, 2 Peruvian Champion wins, 1 Chilean Champion win
  • Popularity: 948K Instagram followers

Nicknamed “The Flea” for his small stature and speed, he is one of the most acclaimed and respected Peruvian players of all time and a skilled striker with many goals.

15. Cucho Hernández

  • Age: 24 years old
  • Nationality: Colombian
  • Current Club: Columbus Crew, Colombian National Team
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.6 million base and $2.88 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2025
  • Net Worth: According to Players Wiki, $4 million
  • Achievements: 1 Top Goal Scorer win
  • Popularity: 368K Instagram followers

As a dynamic and exciting striker or winger, Cucho brings youth and maturity to the Columbus Crew and is already eight years into a promising and interesting career.

14. Hany Mukhtar

  • Age: 28
  • Nationality: German
  • Current Club: Nashville SC
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $2.9 million base and $3.18 guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2026
  • Net Worth: According to Players Wiki, $2 million
  • Achievements: 1 MLS MVP win, 1 Top Goal Scorer Win, 1 Portuguese Champion win, 1 Danish Cup win, 1 Austrian Champion win, 1 Austrian Cup win, 1 German Second Tier Champion win, 1 European Under-19 Champion win, 1 German Under-17 Bundesliga Champion win
  • Popularity: 98K Instagram followers

Something of a German wunderkind as a teenager, Mukhtar seems to have come into his own as an adult player in 2022, scoring 23 goals for the MLS to keep Nashville SC competitive.

13. Carlos Vela 

  • Age: 34 years old
  • Nationality: Mexican
  • Current Club: Los Angeles FC
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $3 million base and $3.3 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: At least through the end of 2023
  • Net Worth: According to Celebrity Net Worth, $20 million
  • Achievements: 1 MLS MVP title, 2 Top Goal Scorer titles, 2 Gold Cup wins, 1 MLS Cup Champion win, 2 Supporters’ Shield wins, 1 Under-17 World Cup Champion win
  • Popularity: 1.7 million Instagram followers

Carlos Vela may be the best current MLS player, as he recorded 34 goals and 15 assists last season off a solid left foot. He may be Mexico’s best player and their strongest chance for a World Cup.

12. Federico Bernardeschi

  • Age: 29
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Current Club: Toronto F.C.
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $3.1 million base with $6.2 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2026
  • Net Worth: According to Sports Brief, $35.5 million
  • Achievements: 1 Top Goal Scorer win, 1 European Champion win, 3 Italian Champion wins, 2 Italian Cup wins, 2 Italian Super Cup wins
  • Popularity: 2.9 million Instagram followers

Federico Bernardeschi is well known for his outspoken social media accounts and elegant and engaging play style that brings European strategy to the American game.

11. Douglas Costa 

  • Age: 33 years old
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Current Club: Ended a stint with the L.A. Galaxy in 2023, currently a free agent
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $3 million base and $4.5 million guaranteed from L.A. Galaxy
  • Contract Length: Currently a free agent
  • Net Worth: According to MLS Base, 65 million Euros ($69 million)
  • Achievements: 1 FIFA Club World Cup win, 3 German Champion wins, 3 Italian Champion wins, 1 German Cup win, 1 Italian Cup win, 1 Italian Super Cup win, 1 German Super Cup win; 5 Ukrainian Champion wins, 3 Ukrainian Cup wins, 3 Ukrainian Super Cup wins, 1 Under-20 South American Championship win
  • Popularity: 6.2 million Instagram followers

Douglas Costa is a Brazilian player who built his popularity mainly before joining the MLS. After a few years with the L.A. Galaxy, he is an MLS free agent.

10. Carles Gil 

  • Age: 30
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Current Club: New England Revolution
  • Annual Salary: According to Soccer Sport Zone, $3.25 million base and $3.5 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Transfer Markt, through 2024
  • Net Worth: According to Players Wiki, $5 million
  • Achievements: 1 MLS MVP win, 1 Supporters’ Shield win, 1 Spanish 2nd Tier Champion win
  • Popularity: 33K Instagram followers

After playing in the reserves for Valencia for the early part of his career, Carles Gil eventually signed with the New England Revolution to get a chance to start regularly with a soccer team.

9. Sebastian Driussi

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Current Club: Austin FC
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $3.8 million base and $6 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2026
  • Net Worth: According to Celebrity Net Worth, about $1 million
  • Achievements: 3 Russian champion wins, 2 Russian Super Cup wins, 1 Russian Cup win, 1 Copa Sundamericana Win, 1 Copa Libertadores win, 2 Recopa Sudamericana win, 1 Under-20 South American Championship win, 1 Argentinian Champion win, 1 Argentinian Cup win
  • Popularity: 1 million Instagram followers

After making a big impression in various Russian clubs, Driussi moved to Austin FC and was the runner-up for the 2022 MLS MVP award. Big things are expected from the young player.

8. Christian Benteke

  • Age: 32
  • Nationality: Belgian
  • Current Club: D.C. United
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $4.25 million base and $4.43 guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2025
  • Net Worth: According to Player Wiki, 22 million GBP ($26.97 million)
  • Achievements: 1 Belgian Champion win
  • Popularity: 666K Instagram followers

As one of the most popular and successful Belgian strikers of all time, Christian Benteke brought his trademark flair and speed and helped Belgium reach the Quarterfinals in the UEFA Euro 2016.

7. Josef Martinez 

  • Age: 30
  • Nationality: Venezuelan  
  • Current Club: Free agent (most recently Inter Miami), Venezuela National Team
  • Annual Salary: According to Pro Soccer Wire, $4.4 million in his last year with Inter Miami
  • Contract Length: Currently unknown as a free agent
  • Net Worth: According to Celebs Money, $1 million
  • Achievements: 1 MLS MVP win, 1 Top Goal Scorer win, 1 MLS Cup Champion win, 1 U.S. Open Cup win, 1 Leagues Cup win, 1 Campeones Cup win, 
  • Popularity: 1 million Instagram followers

As one of the most successful and popular MLS players, Josef Martinez has played with multiple clubs and did not renew his contract with Inter Miami after 2023. When signed, he'll likely be a top earner in the league.

6. Hector Herrera

  • Age: 33
  • Nationality: Mexican
  • Current Club: Houston Dynamo
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $4.75 million base and $5.25 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2025
  • Net Worth: According to Wealthy Gorilla, $18 million
  • Achievements: 1 Gold Cup win, 1 Spanish Champion win, 1 Portuguese Champion win, 1 U.S. Open Cup win, 1 Olympic gold medal win, 2 Portuguese Super Cup Wins, 
  • Popularity: 1.3 million Instagram followers

A dynamic and exciting player, Hector Herrera has played with the Houston Dynamo for several years and has helped that club stay interesting and competitive during his tenure.

5. Riqui Puig

  • Age: 24
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Current Club: L.A. Galaxy
  • Annual Salary: According to El Futbolero, $6.5 million guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Transfer Markt, until 2025
  • Net Worth: According to Marca, $1.5 million
  • Achievements: 1 Spanish Champion win, 1 Spanish Cup win, 1 UEFA Youth League win
  • Popularity: 2.8 million Instagram followers

At 24 years old, Puig is one of the youngest players on this list. He’s heavily popular with MLS fans, though he hasn’t entirely lived up to the enormous expectations placed on him early in his career.

4. Javier "Chicharito" Hernández

  • Age: 35 years old
  • Nationality: Mexican
  • Current Club: Free agent (most recently with L.A. Galaxy)
  • Annual Salary: According to Pro Soccer Wire, $7.4 million in his last year with the Galaxy
  • Contract Length: No current contract
  • Net Worth: According to Celebrity Net Worth, $30 million
  • Achievements: 2 Top Goal Scorer wins, 1 Player of the Year win, 1 T.M.- Player of the Season win, 1 Gold Cup win, 1 FIFA Club World Cup win, 2 English Champion wins, 1 English Super Cup win, 1 Mexican Champion Apertura win
  • Popularity: 6.1 million Instagram followers

After a three-year career with the L.A. Galaxy, Chicharito was released despite earning enough goals to be the club’s seventh-best scorer. He was released primarily to free up cap space.

3. Lorenzo Insigne

  • Age: 32 years old
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Current Club: Toronto F.C.
  • Annual Salary: According to Sport Trac, $7.5 million base salary, which is fully guaranteed
  • Contract Length: According to Sport Trac, through 2026
  • Net Worth: According to The Talking Moose, 35 million Euros ($37.42 million)
  • Achievements: 2 Top Goal Scorer wins, 1 European Champion win, 2 Italian Cup wins, 1 Italian Super Cup win, 1 Italienischer Zweitligameister win
  • Popularity: 2.1 million Instagram followers

Lorenzo Insigne quickly earned his place in the MLS by earning 10 goals across 24 games, or about half a goal a game. His fast-playing style excites fans and makes him very popular.

2. Xherdan Shaqiri

  • Age: 32
  • Nationality: Swiss
  • Current Club: Chicago Fire
  • Annual Salary: According to Pro Soccer Wire, $8.2 million
  • Contract Length: According to Transfer Markt, through 2024
  • Net Worth: According to Celebrity Net Worth, $12 million
  • Achievements: 2 Footballer of the Year wins, 2 Champions League wins, 2 FIFA Club World Cup wins, 3 German Champion wins, 1 English Champion win, 2 UEFA Super Cup wins, 2 German Cup wins, 1 German Super Cup win, 3 Swiss Champion wins, 2 Swiss Cup wins
  • Popularity: 2.8 million Instagram followers

Xherdan Shaqiri has not only impressed internationally (gaining him a wide fanbase) but thrived with the Chicago Fire and is currently their highest-earning player.

1. Lionel Messi

  • Age: 36
  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Current Club: Barcelona, PSG, and Inter Miami
  • Annual Salary: According to Sporting News, $12 million base and guaranteed $20 million
  • Contract Length: Two and a half years
  • Net Worth: According to Celebrity Net Worth, $600 Million
  • Achievements: F.C. Barcelona: 4 champions league wins, 10 LaLiga Wins, 7 Copa del Ray wins, 3 Club World Cup wins, 3 European Super Cup wins, 8 Supercopa de Espana wins; Paris Saint-Germain: 2 Ligue 1 wins, 1 French Super Cup win; Inter Miami: 1 Leagues Cup win; Argentina: 1 Copa America win, 1 U-20 World Cup win, 1 Olympic Gold Medal; 1 FIFA World Cup win, 1 Finalissima win.
  • Popularity: 491 million Instagram followers

Lionel Messi is Argentina’s finest soccer player of all time and arguably one of the top three best players in the world. He signed with Inter Miami for the 2022-23 season.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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