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The Highest-Paid Soccer Defenders in the World

Jul 29, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; FC Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong (21) and Real Madrid defender Eder Militao (3) battle for the ball during the first half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kevin Jairaj – USA TODAY Sports

The world’s biggest soccer clubs are now valued in the billions, as top players captivate fans worldwide. Offenses have continued to improve in speed, spacing, and sophisitication, so clubs pay high wages to defenders who can slow down the best attackers.

The highest-paid soccer defenders earn more than some strikers and midfielders. 

Kalidou Koulibaly is the highest-paid defender in 2024. He makes $34.7 million annually playing for Al Hilal.

Koulibaly signed a 3-year deal in 2023 that will net him a total of $104.1 million to play in the Saudi Pro League. He spent most of his career in Italy, completing 288 career tackles. Koulibaly led Al Hilal to an unbeaten record and a championship in his first season.

Aymeric Laporte is second on the list, earning $24.5 million per year. The Al Nassr star central defender has earned $53 million throughout his career. He will earn an additional $73.5 million while playing with the Saudi side.

Laporte has won six trophies, all during his time with Manchester City.

Third on the list is Real Madrid’s David Alaba. The 31-year-old earns $22.5 million a year to secure their defense. Alaba’s deal includes an $850 million release clause, the highest of any player on the list. 

He’s also won the most individual awards, including being named to UEFA’s Team of the Year three times.

Milan Skriniar brings in $20 million to land fourth on the list. The PSG defender has the most career tackles of any defender in the top 10 with 337. He’s been named Slovakian Player of the Year four times. 

Another PSG defender rounds out the top five. Lucas Hernández makes $19 million playing mostly as a left-back. He’s one of only two defenders on the list to win the Champions League and the World Cup.

Three of the top 10 highest-paid defenders play for PSG. Real Madrid and PSG are the only clubs with multiple defenders among the top 10 highest-paid.

Koulibaly’s $34.7 million salary is more than what all of the Serie A clubs featured on the list spend on defenders combined, underlining the financial woes of Serie A compared to other leagues.

Ranking The Highest-Paid Soccer Defenders

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

  • Updated: June 21, 2024
RankPlayerCareer TacklesAwards WonTeamTotal Compensation
1Kalidou Koulibaly2880Al Hilal$34.7 million
2Aymeric Laporte1780Al Nassr$24.5 million
3David Alaba17513Real Madrid$22.5 million
4Milan Skriniar3374PSG$20 million
5Lucas Hernández2950PSG$19 million
6David Raum2640RB Leipzig$18.87 million
7Antonio Rüdiger2160Real Madrid$18.75 million
8Raphaël Varane1832Manchester United$17.68 million
9Marquinhos2480PSG$16.8 million
10Matthijs de Ligt1773Bayern Munich$16 million
11Éder Militão2080Real Madrid$14.58 million
12Achraf Hakimi3250PSG$14.5 million
13Jules Koundé2380Barcelona$13.55 million
T-14Reece James2630Chelsea$13 million
T-14John Stones980Manchester City$13 million
T-14Andreas Christensen1421Barcelona$13 million
17João Cancelo3930Barcelona$12.5 million
18Alessandro Bastoni2260Inter Milan$12.04 million
19Min-jae Kim1141Bayern Munich$12 million
20Virgil van Dijk1728Liverpool$11.44 million
21Alphonso Davies2934Bayern Munich$11.25 million
T-22Alex Sandro2810Juventus$11.11 million
T-22Gleison Bremer2530Juventus$11.11 million
24Niklas Süle1760Borussia Dortmund$11 million
25Renan Lodi2110Al Hilal$10.8 million

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