Soon-to-be Inter Miami player Lionel Messi

The 10 highest earners in Major League Soccer in 2023: Messi, Busquets, Benteke…

Harry Watkinson

Major League Soccer is well and truly division on the up, attracting some of the world’s biggest stars in recent years. But who are the 10 highest-paid players in MLS in 2023?

Inter Miami are the team to watch in terms of superstars. They recently acquired the disputed GOAT Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and want to sign 39-year-old Andreas Iniesta. So, we could see a prime 2010s Barcelona reunion in the Magic City.

If you want to see them, and the entirety of MLS action this year, all you have to do is sign up for an MLS Season Pass with Apple TV.

Here, we take a look at which players feature among the 10 best-paid in MLS in 2022, a year in which salaries have risen beyond levels ever seen before in the league. Note: the figures below are the players’ weekly wages, including bonuses.*

10. Christian Benteke (D.C. United, $85,245)

Former Liverpool and Crystal Palace striker Benteke seems to have rediscovered his scoring form under Wayne Rooney at D.C. United.

The Belgium international left Selhurst Park for the United States’ capital in August 2022 and he has quickly become a fan-favourite.

As of July 2023, Benteke has scored eight goals in 20 MLS appearances this season, as well as making two assists. He remains the star player at the club, whose other players include Manchester United reject Ravel Morrison and former Leeds star Mateusz Klich.

9. Douglas Costa (LA Galaxy, $86,698)

Another big name to have played at the highest level, Costa has played for Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayern Munich and Juventus during his career.

The 32-year-old was widely touted to be the next big thing early in his career. But, he suffered several big injuries that limited his development.

Since signing for LA Galaxy in July 2022, he has made 39 appearances, scoring five goals and making five assists.

Brazilian winger Douglas Costa of LA Galaxy

8. Hector Herrera (Houston Dynamo, $100,901)

Herrera signed for Houston Dynamo on a free transfer from Atletico Madrid in 2022 and had an abysmal first season in the MLS.

Fans were left baffled why the Mexican, despite his vast experience in European and international football, was being paid so handsomely for doing so little on the pitch.

However, in 2023, Herrera has enjoyed something of a resurgence at the ripe age of 33. So far this season, he has scored three goals and made six assists in 17 appearances.

7. Sebastian Driussi (Austin FC, $115,817)

Having played for River Plate and Zenit Saint Petersburg, two of the biggest clubs outside of Europe’s ‘big five,’ it’s no surprise to see Driussi being paid so handsomely in MLS.

He is certainly earning his hefty wage at Austin FC, too. In 2022, the attacking midfielder scored an incredible 25 goals. Now, this year, he has netted four in 15 matches.

With those kinds of numbers, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some European teams come sniffing for the 27-year-old this summer.

6. Federico Bernadeschi (Toronto FC, $121,065)

A top-quality player on his day, it came as a bit of a shock when Bernadeschi ditched Serie A title charges with Juventus for Toronto FC in 2022.

But, what wasn’t a shock was the attacking midfielder’s form last season. He netted 22 times in 34 appearances for the Canadian club. Which, in fairness, reflects his eye-watering wage packet.

However, his form has dipped this season, scoring only four in 15 so far. Bernadeschi will be hoping for a more successful second half of the year.

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5. Javier Hernandez (LA Galaxy, $143,149)

Former Manchester United, Real Madrid, West Ham and Sevilla striker ‘Chicharito’ is still going at the age of 35 in MLS.

The captain of LA Galaxy, Hernandez is widely considered to be one of Mexico’s all-time greatest players and continues to score goals. Although, he’s only scored one this year and his fitness isn’t what it used to be.

His $143,000-per-week contract is set to expire in December, when it’s rumoured he could hang up the boots for the final time. It’s fair to say he’s had some great moments in his career, though.

If you want to catch what could be the final few months of Hernandez’s career live from the comfort of your couch, all you need is an MLS Season Pass with Apple TV.

4. Lorenzo Insigne (Toronto FC, $144,230)

Another big player who has ditched Serie A for MLS, Insigne penned a mega-money deal with Toronto FC in 2022.

After a poor start to life in North America, Insigne seems to have rediscovered some of the form he has shown for Napoli and the Italy national team in the past.

This season, Insigne has scored four goals and assisted twice in 15 appearances. However, Toronto as a whole have been poor, and currently sit second-bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference.

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3. Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire, $157,692)

A player Premier League fans will be very familiar with, Switzerland winger Shaqiri has played for Chicago Fire FC since February 2022.

The 31-year-old has won 18 trophies throughout his career with FC Basel, Liverpool and Bayern Munich.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see him earning a very generous pay-packet of $157,000 per week, making him the third-highest earner in MLS in 2023.

So far, Shaqiri has scored nine goals and made 10 assists in 47 appearances for Chicago Fire.

2. Sergio Busquets (Inter Miami, $192,307)

As mentioned, though, the MLS team with the most world-renowned players in their squad this year is Inter Miami.

Busquets was part of a Barcelona team that is considered to be one of the best of all time and dominated European football for years.

During his 15-year stint at the Camp Nou, the 34-year-old made over 700 appearances and won 32 major trophies, including nine La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues.

Now, Busquets has penned a very lucrative two-and-a-half-year deal with Inter Miami, who currently sit bottom of the Eastern Conference, and will be charged with turning their current form around.

Sergio Busquests, Lionel Messi and Andreas Iniesta of Barcelona, 2013

1. Lionel Messi (Inter Miami, $1,057,692)

Set to be the highest-earning MLS player of all time by a country mile, Messi has reportedly penned a two-and-a-half-year deal with Inter Miami, which is estimated to be worth between $50m and $60m per year.

The lower of those figures makes the seven-time Balon d’Or winner the highest-paid player in MLS by over $40m.

In his simply incredible career, Messi won 34 major trophies with Barcelona, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues. Then, with Paris Saint-Germain, he won two Ligue 1 titles. And who could forget last year, when he captained Argentina to World Cup victory in Qatar.

Incredibly, Messi turned down a $1.3bn offer from Saudi club Al-Hilal for two seasons to join Inter Miami, where, as mentioned, he will be playing alongside Busquets and potentially Iniesta again this year.

Fans of the MLS will no doubt be buzzing to see the Argentina icon make his debut against Mexican side Cruz Azul on July 21st, which you can watch from anywhere in the world using the MLS Season Pass with Apple TV.

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