Top World Cup stars are paid more than entire U.S. team

(Rondeau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports)
Lionel Messi (Rondeau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports)

Americans have a huge superiority complex. Why shouldn’t we? The USA is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Our economy is the biggest, our universities and intercollegiate athletics are unparalleled, and our professional sports leagues are comprised of the best players in the world in every sport . . . . except soccer.

The MLB, NFL, NBA and the NHL have been around forever and each league is the premier destination for the most talented players in the world. Many Americans grow up watching the four major sports and competing from a young age with the dream of playing professionally. The other football is often overlooked. America doesn’t care about soccer, but when the World Cup comes around we jump on the bandwagon, set our expectations too high, and get mad when the team does not win.

We all need a reality check. Take a step back and look at the incredible talent gap between the U.S. Men’s National Team and teams from around the world. In any sport, the team with the greatest player in the world has an advantage. Lionel Messi does not play for the U.S. In fact, arguably the best U.S. player isn’t even going to Brazil. He’s staying home, snubbed from the roster by coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

The best players in the world are paid as such, so it is appropriate to take a look at the salary discrepancy between the players from the U.S. and the 31 other countries competing in the World Cup. The combined salary of the projected starting 11 for the U.S. men is $19,036,000. Nine NBA players and 22 MLB players were paid more than that this year.

(Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)

Four soccer players from other countries have a higher salary than the entire U.S. team:


Cristiano Ronaldo – $25,154,000

Ivory Coast

Yaya Toure – $23,760,000


Fernando Torres – $22,545,000


Lionel Messi – $21,600,000

In addition to these four teams, eight teams boast two players whose combined salaries are more than the 11 projected starters for the U.S. team. Some of these teams even have multiple combinations of two players whose salaries add up to more than 19 million.


Luiz Gustavo – $10,869,000

Neymar – $9,511,000

Daniel Alves – $9,511,000

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)


Luka Modric – $11,353,000

Ivan Rakitic – $8,153,000

Ivica Olic – $8,153,000


Robin van Persie – $15,725,000

Arjen Robben – $9,450,000

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)


Luis Suarez – $16,800,000

Edinson Cavani – $13,500,000


Wayne Rooney – $18,100,000

Steven Gerrard – $17,200,000

Frank Lampard – $11,038,000

(AP Photo/PA, Martin Rickett)
(AP Photo/PA, Martin Rickett)


Franck Ribery – $16,200,000

Karim Benzema – $8,736,000


Mesut Ozil – $13,975,000

Bastian Schweinsteiger – $13,591,000

Thomas Muller – $10,873,000

Bastian Schweinsteiger (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)


Vincent Kompany – $17,472,000

Eden Hazard – $14,851,200

Reality Check! The odds are stacked against the U.S. team. Getting out of Group G is highly unlikely. Germany and Portugal are behemoths and Ghana has seemingly had the U.S.’s number for many years. Enjoy the World Cup, but temper your expectations.

Salaries via,, and

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