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The 25 Highest-Paid MLS Forwards

Jun 1, 2024; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA; Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) reacts after scoring a goal during the first half against St. Louis CITY SC at Chase Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS continues to grow in revenue and expand its number of teams, partially thanks to the arrival of internationally known players.

Lionel Messi tops all MLS forwards as the highest-paid of 2024.

Few players in the world can stir up global hype — and potentially double their team revenue’s — like Messi. He makes $12 million a year playing for Inter Miami. His groundbreaking arrival in the MLS last summer caused a flurry of new attention league-wide.

Messi’s salary and career numbers put him far ahead of the rest of the list. He’s the only player earning over $10 million and the only one with over 200 career goals.

Coming in second is Lorenzo Insigne of Toronto. Insigne earns $7.5 million a season as their star forward. He’s signed until 2026 and is set to make $22.5 million in his time with them.

His 127 career goals are third among the top 10 highest-paid forwards.

Third on the list is Xherdan Shaqiri earning $7.35 million. He’s played for the Fire since 2022. Shaqiri is the last forward on the list to earn at least $7 million.

Red Bulls’ Emil Forsberg ranks fourth. He brings in $5.41 million a year sparking New York’s attack. Forsberg won the 2021 Swedish Golden Ball playing for his native Sweden.

Rounding out the top five is Sebastián Driussi. He makes $4.5 million playing for Austin. Driussi has played in his native Argentina and Russia before signing a 2-year deal to play in the MLS. 

Eight of the ten highest-paid MLS forwards play in the Eastern Conference. Only Austin FC and Sporting KC make the top 10 list from the Western Conference.

Even though he doesn’t play in every MLS game, disappointing some clubs, Messi’s 594 career matches are over 100 more than the next closest player on the list.

Ranking The Highest-Paid MLS Forwards

Here is the entire list of the highest-paid MLS forwards. The list was compiled with data from Capology.

  • Updated: July 3, 2024
RankPlayerCareer MatchesCareer GoalsTeamTotal Compensation
1Lionel Messi594508Inter Miami$12 million
2Lorenzo Insigne414127Toronto FC$7.5 million
3Xherdan Shaqiri36868Chicago Fire$7.35 million
4Emil Forsberg41097NY Red Bulls$5.41 million
5Sebastián Driussi25285Austin FC$4.5 million
6Christian Benteke448157DC United$4.25 million
7Carles Gil29745NE Revolution$4 million
8Hany Mukhtar26386Nashville SC$3.8 million
9Alan Pulido27189Sporting KC$3.6 million
10Hugo Cuypers13149Chicago Fire$3.24 million
11Teemu Pukki491188Minnesota United$3.2 million
12Joseph Paintsil16441LA Galaxy$3.14 million
13Federico Bernardeschi30253Toronto FC$3.13 million
14Luciano Acosta30069FC Cincinnati$2.96 million
15Denis Bouanga25990LAFC$2.92 million
16Ryan Gauld19747Vancouver Whitecaps$2.88 million
17Luis Muriel384113Orlando City$2.83 million
18Diego Rossi23577Columbus Crew$2.68 million
19Cucho Hernández20461Columbus Crew$2.6 million
20Sam Surridge18941Nashville SC$2.5 million
21Liel Abada8622Charlotte FC$2.3 million
22Albert Rusnák29962Seattle Sounders$2.15 million
T-23Jesús Ferreira16356FC Dallas$2 million
T-23Raúl Ruidíaz231133Seattle Sounders$2 million
25Kévin Cabral16521Colorado Rapids$1.95 million

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