Some familiar faces make an appearance.

Former Barcelona & Liverpool stars feature in the highest-paid MLS XI of 2024

Former Barcelona, Liverpool and Napoli stars are among the highest-paid players in MLS. We’ve compiled them all into a starting XI and you’ll no doubt recognise plenty of names.

Football in the United States has grown immensely over the last few years and as a result, wages have skyrocketed in that time.

While MLS clubs have to abide by strict salary caps, they can sign up to three designated players who aren’t subject to the strict wage rules.

Using figures provided by Capology, we have assembled the highest-paid XI in MLS for the 2024 campaign.

GK: Roman Burki – $28,800 per week

Upon signing for St. Louis City in 2022, Burki became the highest-earning goalkeeper in the league. Best known for his stint with Borussia Dortmund, the Swiss shot-stopper is one of the most experienced players in the league.

In MLS last season, he boasted a save percentage of 78.5 per cent which was the third-best in the league. Given he’s the highest earner at St. Louis City, you’d expect him to be among their top performers.

RB: DeAndre Yedlin – $15,800 per week

The former Inter Miami captain recently made the switch to FC Cincinnati and according to Capology, is taking home a weekly salary of $15,800.

With Inter Miami signing plenty of big names of late, the club had to shift some of their own stars off their wage bill. Yedlin himself seems excited to get started in his new surroundings.

“I’m always open to anything,” Yedlin said via AP. “I’ve been around the world playing and I just look at every new place that I go as a new experience. So I try to be as open minded as I can.”

CB: Walker Zimmerman – $34,600 per week

The United States international has spent his entire professional career playing in MLS and he’s now one of the top earners in his position.

Zimmerman has been a mainstay in the Nashville XI since his arrival in 2020. He’s under contract until 2025 and is the third-highest earner at the club with a yearly wage of $1.8million.

CB: Thiago Martins – $31,700 per week

The Brazilian defender joined New York City FC in 2022 following some successful years in Japan. Taking home a yearly salary of $1.65million, he’s the outright highest-paid player at the club.

MLS New York City

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LB: Jordi Alba – $19,200 per week

Prior to joining Inter Miami, Alba was earning $220,000 a week at Barcelona. Given the strict wage caps that are in place in MLS, he’s taken a considerable wage cut to link up with some of his former teammates.

Despite no longer earning the big bucks like he did in Europe, he’s still the outright highest-paid full-back in MLS. He’s looked sharp in his new surroundings too and has quickly established himself as a fan favourite at Chase Stadium.

CM: Hector Herrera – $91,300 per week

Houston Dynamo signed Herrera as a designated player in 2022 and he subsequently became the highest-paid player at the club. Earning a yearly wage of $4.75million, he earns more than double the amount of Sebastian Ferreira who’s the club’s second-highest earner.

The Mexican midfielder had an outstanding season last time around as he scored four goals and produced 13 assists from midfield which helped his side secure a playoff spot.

From Herrera’s perspective, the goal for Houston Dynamo this season is to win the MLS Cup: “While it’s true we’re coming off a good season, we haven’t achieved the most important thing. Winning MLS Cup.

“I think that’s our biggest motivation and the biggest motivation for any club.”

CM: Mateusz Klich – $36,500 per week

Believe it or not, but Klich is currently earning more than the likes of Sergio Busquets, Riqui Puig and Victor Wanyama in MLS.

The former Leeds United midfielder has made a good impression at DC United since joining last year. In 38 appearances for the MLS club, Klich has 12 goal contributions in 38 appearances.

We’d be lying if we said we didn’t miss him in the Premier League though.

CAM: Xherdan Shaqiri – $141,300 per week

Since penning a lucrative deal with Chicago Fire in 2022, the Swiss attacking midfielder has been plenty of fun to watch. In 66 games for the United States club, Shaqiri has produced an impressive 27-goal contributions.

You’ll be pleased to know that he still scores the occasional worldie too.

Los Angeles Galaxy, players including Landon Donovan holding the trophy, and David Beckham, front left, celebrate after defeating the the Houston Dynamo 3-1 in the MLS Cup championship soccer game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in Carson, Calif.

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RW: Lionel Messi – $230,700 per week

Earning $230,700 per week, Messi is the outright highest-paid player in the league. That figure is just his base salary too, when you take into consideration his bonuses, brand deals and other revenue streams, he’ll be earning even more than that.

The 36-year-old has had an unbelievable impact on MLS since his arrival last year. Never mind his ability on the pitch, Messi has justified his lofty wage by the sheer number of eyeballs he attracted to the league.

We can’t take our eyes off MLS right now and the diminutive Argentine genius has played a large role in that.

ST: Christian Benteke – $81,700 per week

Benteke wasn’t at his prolific best during his final days with Crystal Palace, but he’s rekindled his goalscoring touch since joining DC United in 2022.

The Belgium forward has scored 18 goals in 39 MLS appearances since his arrival and he bagged a hat-trick in his latest game against New England too. For $81,700 a week, you’d be expecting a consistent goal return.

LW: Lorenzo Insigne – $144,200 per week

The Italian winger has been on fire for Toronto of late. With two goals in his last two matches, opposition defences are finding him too hot to handle at the moment.

Given he’s the second-highest-paid player in the league, you’d expect that kind of return from the 32-year-old.

The five highest paid MLS players

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