However, these ageing superstars who have spent years working in Europe and are now traveling to the United States in the hopes of making one more substantial paycheck are discovering a harsh reality. The Major League Soccer (MLS) is not the same league that it used to be, and it is now significantly more difficult to defend a multimillion-dollar deal than it was in the past.
The Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023 is a well known figure in the sports world.
According to the bylaws of the Major League Soccer (MLS), the Designated Player Rule enables teams “to acquire up to three players whose total compensation and acquisition costs exceed the Maximum Salary Budget Charge,” with the understanding that the club will be financially responsible for the amount of compensation that is in excess of each player’s Salary Budget Charge.
The maximum amount that can be charged to the salary budget in 2023 is $612500.
Additionally, teams have the option of spending General Allocation Money (GAM), Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), and additional money on U22 Initiative Slots. According to Sportrac, there are 181 Major League Soccer players in the year 2023 who make more than $612,500 as a result of these deviations to the Maximum Salary Budget Charge.
Here is a list of the Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023.
10. Lucas Zelarayan Salary at Columbus Crew— £3.12m
Lucas Manuel Zelarayán is a professional footballer who currently plays for Columbus Crew in the Major League Soccer. He plays the position of attacking midfielder for the Crew. Despite having been born in Argentina, he currently plays for the Armenia national team.
Although Zelarayán was born in Argentina, his father is of Armenian descent, hence he has Armenian blood. In June of 2018, he was handed an invitation to participate in the national team competition for Armenia. He agreed to play for the Armenia national team in October of 2021 after receiving an invitation to do so. On October 8, 2021, he made his debut for Armenia in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Iceland. The match ended 1-1.
Zelarayán scored a total of five goals from free kicks during the 2021 Major League Soccer season, with two of those goals coming in a single match against New York City FC. The Crew ended up winning 2-1, with the game-winning free kick coming in the 90’+5 minute, which earned Zelarayán honors as the Week 6 MLS Player of the Week. Both goals scored from free kicks proved to be important for the Crew’s victory.
After scoring two goals against DC United in week 34 of the 2021 Major League Soccer season, Zelarayán was recognized as the MLS Player of the Week for that week. At the end of the season, Zelarayán finished first for the club in both goals scored and assists with a total of twelve and seven, respectively.
It was revealed on the 2nd of December 2021 that Zelarayán had signed a contract extension with the Crew, which would keep him in Columbus through the 2024 Major League Soccer season with an option for the 2025 season.
Zelarayán was selected as the MLS Player of the Month for the month ending March 2022.
9. Luiz Araujo Salary at Atlanta United— £3.31m
Luiz de Araújo Guimares Neto, also known as Luiz Arajo, is a Brazilian professional footballer who now plays for the Major League Soccer team Atlanta United. He plays on the wing for Atlanta United.
Araujo was a member of the youth team for Mirassol when he started his professional career, and he was elevated to the first team in January 2013.
Before Arajo could make his debut for Mirassol, he joined So Paulo and went back to playing youth football. This ended his time with Mirassol.
On August 6, 2021, Araujo became a designated player for the Major League Soccer club Atlanta United after signing a contract with the club. On August 18, he made his debut for the club in a match against Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He played 67 minutes in the game, which the club won 1-0.
On September 15, Araujo scored his first goal for the club. He did it by receiving the ball fifty yards out from the net, dribbling past his defender, racing, and curling his shot into the left corner in the fifth minute of Atlanta United’s home victory, which they won by a score of four to zero.
8. Carlos Vela Salary at Los Angeles FC— £3.38m
Carlos Alberto Vela Garrido is a Mexican professional footballer who now serves as captain and plays for the team Los Angeles FC, which competes in Major League Soccer. Vela is regarded for being an inventive player as well as a prolific scorer. He can play in a variety of positions, including forward, winger, and offensive midfielder, and he is described as being versatile.
Vela began his professional career with the Mexican club Guadalajara. After leading all scorers at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship, several European clubs expressed interest in signing him. He ultimately decided to sign with the Premier League club Arsenal in that same year.
After signing with Arsenal, he spent time on loan with Spanish clubs Salamanca and Osasuna, as well as West Bromwich Albion, an English club. He finally found a home with Real Sociedad in 2011, first on loan and then permanently the following season. Vela was a member of La Real for six years, during which time he participated in 250 matches and scored 73 goals.
He signed with Los Angeles FC in January 2018, and in his second year with the club, he won the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Golden Boot. Additionally, he established a new league record for the most goals scored in a season with 34. Additionally, the other players chose him as the Most Valuable Player.
Carlos Alberto Vela is the eighth Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023 with a salary of £3.38m per year.
Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023
7. Josef Martinez Salary at Atlanta United– £3.5m
Josef Alexander Martinez Mencia is a striker for Atlanta United of Major League Soccer and the Venezuelan national football team. He is a professional footballer from Venezuela and plays for the Venezuelan national team.
Josef Martinez started his professional career with the Caracas club. In 2012, he was purchased by Young Boys, a team that plays in the Swiss Super League, and then he spent a year playing for Thun on loan. In 2014, he was transferred to the Italian team Torino, and in 2017, he was traded to the expansion side of Major League Soccer known as Atlanta United FC.
He holds the record for most consecutive games with a goal (15), the record for cumulative goals in regular and post season with 35, the record for cumulative goals in regular and post season with 35, the record for cumulative goals in regular and post season with 35, and he formerly held the record for most goals in a single season (31 in 2018). In addition, Martinez became the fastest player in Major League Soccer (MLS) history to reach the milestone of 100 goals scored (125 games).
In the 2018 Major League Soccer season, Martnez won the most valuable player award for the league, the most valuable player award for the all-star game, the most valuable player award for the MLS Cup Final, and the Golden Boot.
He is a former Venezuela under-20 international. Since making his debut for the senior Venezuela national team in 2011 against El Salvador, he has gone on to represent his country in three different iterations of the Copa América tournament.
6. Jozy Altidore Salary at New England Revolution— £3.62m
Josmer Volmy “Jozy” Altidore is an American professional soccer player who plays as a forward for both the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer and the United States national team. He goes by the nickname “Jozy.”
Altidore made his debut in the professional league with the New York Red Bulls in 2006, when he was only 16 years old. In 2008, he was in the midst of his third season with New York when he made the move to Villarreal for a transfer fee of $10 million. During his time with Villarreal, he spent time on loan with three different clubs: the Spanish club Xerez of the Segunda División from February until May 2009, the English club Hull City of the Premier League for the entirety of the 2009–10 season, and the Turkish club Bursaspor for a period of six months. He started working for AZ in the Netherlands during the summer of 2011.
With his 24th goal of the 2012–13 season, Altidore surpassed Clint Dempsey as the American player with the most goals scored in a European club season during the 2012–13 campaign on March 3, 2013. Altidore was brought on board by Sunderland in the midst of the summer transfer window in 2013. After spending one and a half seasons there with a record of few goals scored, he moved on to play in the Major League Soccer for Toronto FC.
Altidore has competed for the United States national team at multiple levels of international competition. He was a member of the United States under-17 team that competed in the FIFA U-17 World Championship in 2005, the United States under-20 team that competed in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007, and the United States under-23 team that competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
His first appearance with the senior national team was in 2007, and he currently has over 110 caps to his name. He has competed for his country in the FIFA Confederations Cup (2009), the CONCACAF Gold Cups (2011), (2015), (2017), and (2019), as well as the FIFA World Cups (2010) and (2014).
5. Alejandro Pozuelo Salary at Inter Miami CF— £3.95m
Alejandro Pozuelo Melero is a Spanish professional footballer who now plays for Inter Miami CF team of the Major League Soccer. He plays the position of attacking midfielder for the club.
After spending his formative years in the Betis club, he went on to play 40 games and score three goals in La Liga for both Rayo Vallecano and Betis. After spending time at Swansea City before to signing with Genk in 2014, the player went on to compete in the Belgian First Division A with the latter club for a number of years. In 2019, he signed with the Toronto FC team that plays in Major League Soccer.
Alejandro Pozuelo is the fifth Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023 with a salary of £3.95m per year.
4. Gonzalo Higuain Salary at Inter Miami— £4.9m
Gonzalo Gerardo Higuain is an Argentine professional footballer who now plays for the Major League Soccer club Inter Miami as a striker and also serves as the team captain for the club. Higuain is a prolific striker who is recognized for his keen eye for the goal, muscular body, and aggressive movements. He goes by the nicknames “El Pipita” or “Pipa.”
Higuain began his professional career with the Argentine club River Plate before making the move to Real Madrid in January 2007 for a fee of twelve million euros. During his tenure in Spain, he was able to earn multiple domestic awards and titles, including three La Liga championships, and score 107 goals in 190 league matches.
In July of 2013, for a transfer fee of €40 million, he signed for the Italian club Napoli, where he went on to win the Coppa Italia in his debut campaign. In the 2015–16 season, he scored 36 goals in the league, which earned him the Capocannoniere title and tied Gino Rossetti’s record for the most goals scored in an Italian top-flight season, which had stood for 87 years.
In 2016, Italian champions Juventus paid him €90 million to sign with them, making it one of the highest football transfers of all time and the highest ever transfer for an Italian club. This made him one of the highest football transfers of all time and the highest ever transfer for an Italian club. During his first two years with Juventus, the team won both of its domestic doubles, and he also helped lead Juventus to the final of the Champions League in 2017. After spending time on loan with AC Milan in 2018 and then with Chelsea of the English Premier League in January 2019, when he won the UEFA Europa League, he returned to Juventus in the summer of that year and went on to win another Serie A championship the following year.
2009 was the year that Higuain made his first appearance for Argentina in a full international match. Since then, he has competed for his country in three FIFA World Cups and three Copa América competitions, leading Argentina to runner-up finishes in the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Copa América, and the Copa América Centenario in 2016.
As a result of Argentina’s elimination in the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup, he was no longer selected for the national team, and in March of 2019, he made the decision to retire from international football. He was awarded a total of 75 caps for his country and scored 31 goals for them.
Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023
3. Javier Hernandez Salary at LA Galaxy– £5.06m
Chicharito is the nickname of Mexican professional footballer Javier Hernández Balcázar, who plays as a striker for the Major League Soccer team LA Galaxy. Hernández Balcázar is commonly known by the pseudonym Chicharito. He is one of the Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023.
In 2006, while Hernández was only 18 years old, he began his senior club career by playing for Guadalajara, for whom he went on to win the Primera División. In 2010, Hernández became the first Mexican player to sign with Manchester United after making the move to the club. In the five years that he spent with Manchester United, he racked up over 150 appearances and scored 59 goals. During that time, United won two Premier League titles and advanced to the final of the 2011 UEFA Champions League. In addition, he established a record for the fifth-best minutes-per-goal ratio (130.2) in the record books of league history.
Hernández left the club in 2014 to play for Real Madrid on loan, and the following year, he signed a permanent contract to play for Bayer Leverkusen. After waiting another two years, Hernandez eventually went back to England and joined with West Ham United. The next year, 2019, he joined with Sevilla before moving on to LA Galaxy.
2. Xherdan Shaqiri Salary at Chicago Fire— £6.9m
Xherdan Shaqiri is a professional footballer from Switzerland. He currently plays on the wing for the Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire as well as for the Switzerland national team.
Shaqiri began his professional career at FC Basel, where he won a number of honors, including three titles in the Swiss Super League. After moving to Bayern Munich, where he played less regularly, he won a total of nine honors at the local and continental levels. He transferred to Inter Milan for a transfer cost of €15 million in January of 2015, and then seven months later, he moved to Stoke City for a transfer fee that set a club record of £12 million.
Following Shaqiri’s former club Stoke City’s elimination from the Premier League in 2018, Liverpool reportedly paid £13.5 million to acquire his services ahead of the start of the 2019 campaign. In just his first season with the team, they won the UEFA Champions League. He was a key member of that championship team. Additionally, he was victorious in the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in the year 2019, in addition to the Premier League in the year 2020, which was Liverpool’s first league title in thirty years.
As a full international since 2010, Shaqiri has earned more than 100 caps for Switzerland and has scored 26 goals for the country, placing him as the seventh-highest goalscorer in Switzerland’s history. He was selected to play for his country in the FIFA World Cup in 2010, 2014, and 2018, as well as the UEFA Euro in 2016 and the UEFA Euro in 2020.
Xherdan Shaqiri is the second Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023 with a salary of £6.9m per year.
1. Lorenzo Insigne Salary at Toronto FC— £10.5m
Lorenzo Insigne is an Italian professional footballer who currently plays as a forward for the Major League Soccer club Toronto FC as well as the Italy national football team. Insigne is originally from the city of Genoa.
2009 marked the beginning of Insigne’s professional career with Napoli, and he made his debut in Serie A the same year. However, Insigne was subsequently loaned out to Cavese, Foggia, and Pescara for three consecutive seasons until being recalled to Napoli in 2012. Although Insigne is versatile enough to play on either flank or even in the middle of the field, his primary position is on the left wing. His creativity, small height, quickness, and technical ability, as well as his precision from free-kicks, are particularly well-known attributes of his, but he is also noted for his speed.
Insigne has previously competed for the Italy national under-21 team, with whom he was awarded a silver medal at the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. Insigne is currently playing for the Italy senior national team. In September of 2012, he made his debut for the senior team. Since then, he has competed for Italy at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Euro 2016, and the UEFA Euro 2020, where he led Italy to victory in the latter competition.
Lorenzo Insigne is the Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023 with an annual salary of £10.5m. [$13 million plus another $5 million in potential add-ons]
Highest Paid Soccer Player in MLS 2023 – MLSbase.com