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Messi, Insigne, Busquets top the list of highest MLS salaries

The MLS Players Union released the salaries of every player in the league on Wednesday, with Lionel Messi, Lorenzo Insigne, and Sergio Busquets headlining the list.

Messi is unsurprisingly MLS’s highest-paid player, currently earning $20.4 million for Inter Miami. The 36-year-old has scored 10 goals and registered 12 assists in 10 league appearances so far during the 2024 league campaign.

Toronto FC’s Insigne has featured in seven league matches to date and is set to earn $15.4 million this season. Busquets has totaled one goal and three assists in 14 league appearances for the Herons.

Chicago Fire attacker Xherdan Shaqiri and Austin FC playmaker Sebastian Driussi round out the top five earners in MLS. Shaqiri will earn just under $8.2 million in guaranteed compensation while Driussi is making just over $6.7 million.

Duncan McGuire, Obed Vargas, Ian Murphy, and Bernard Kamungo are among the consistent MLS performers that surprisingly will earn less than $100,000 this season.

Here is a rundown of the highest-paid players in MLS:

Top 10 Highest Paid MLS Players

1. Lionel Messi

2. Lorenzo Insigne

3. Sergio Busquets

4. Xherdan Shaqiri

5. Sebastian Driussi

6. Federico Bernardeschi

7. Emil Forsberg

8. Hector Herrera

9. Hany Mukhtar

10. Carles Gil

Here is the full list of MLS salaries. What do you think of the salaries? Who do you see being the best bargain? Who do you think is the most overpaid player?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Dave P. – Don’t know if you truly want your questions answered because last year you were wondering why people were bringing up MLS when no one else did in a similar topic. (MLS defense mechanism. MLS is trashed by many Americans & Americans are tired of it. No excuse, just letting you know where it’s coming from).
    So here’s my 3 points & I’m out!
    1)-Philosophy-From it’s inception, MLS has always been Eurocentric w/ South American influence. The U22 initiative is a mechanism for the MLS pipeline for the Conmebol region. 2)- Audience -The fans don’t want to see Americans play this sport. The dollars would’ve been flowing to funding Americans whose grandparents & great grandparents are from America. Dual nationality brings the 2nd biggest contracts, & non-domestics have the biggest contracts. Fans pay to see those players & buy their merch. If the fans really cared, then the fans would be concerned that America is the top country of team sports and the citizenry that comprises those athletics -sprinters of 100m, & 200m, & 4x relays,
    the NBA, the NFL, or Olympic swimming, & 4x relays- are not being recruited to play soccer. Accessibility to these American athletes to play soccer is non-existent. 3) – MLS U.S. player development-
    Former US players & soccer social media platforms think bringing in older players from Europe will help develop the US youth players. Silly assertion that’s been put into action for 30+ years. It’s anti- American. For every foreign transfer, there’s an American who is being under used or who’s job is being out right taken. ‘Well maybe Americans need to be better so their job won’t get taken?!’ Asks the manipulator, who doesn’t understand business. If the club is paying a non US player millions of dollars, the coach isn’t going to play the younger American who’s making 89k, even though the younger player may be better. Especially if the young player is unfamiliar to fans.
    (Another Example- If the USMNT is hiring a German guy as a GK coach, then the best American GK coach isn’t getting hired for the U.S. If the USMNT is hiring a Swiss guy to be a US scout, then guess what?!, the best American soccer scout isn’t in THAT position for the USMNT.) I’ve got 2 competing theories about the MLS.
    1)There’s not a lot of Americans who have say-so in the MLS, or 2)- there ARE Americans who do run the MLS, who only focused on how Europe does it, and making a profit of selling young South Americans to European leagues. The beneficiary, the MLS they get to fill their pockets with a lot of money and repeat the cycle.

  2. My thoughts.
    1. The average age of this list is 32 years. How do we still insist that MLS is not viewed as a retirement plan for European soccer stars?
    2. How are players like this on a field with people who make $89K?
    Who is benefiting from that? If MLS is so desperate for respect in world soccer, why do they do this??

    • Methinks the perception – even American perception – is far short of the reality of 2024. That gap between the haves and have-nots is far greater in European leagues, sometimes absurdly bigger.

      Most of the guys making 85K in MLS are “Supplemental” players, mostly homegrown U22’s. Spotrac posted an updated list of MLS salaries straight from the MLS Players’ Association (for whatever reason Capology’s MLS figures are WAY wrong this year, so ignore those for anybody who uses them as a source) and it floored me. The top-spending team in MLS right now is Miami – who spent $41.6 million this year, more than the bottom three in the EPL. According to pure soccernomics, anyhow, Miami would not get relegated even in the Prem…though just barely. Toronto’s #2, spending $32.1 million, which would put them at #18 in the Prem, just into the relegation zone. The bottom-spending team in MLS is St. Louis this year…and even STL has a salary budget of $12.0 million.

      Interesting. Raises the eyebrows, doesn’t it?

      Want an even bigger kick in the pants? Check out the Eredivisie, considered by many buffs to be the #6 league in the world. (Hint: it isn’t!) The top-spending team is Ajax, who have a €39.4 million salary budget this year…which translates to $42.7 million dollars US, just a hair above Inter Miami. Ajax is respected across Europe and is a regular Champions League squad. The #2 and #3 spending teams in the Eredivisie this season are PSV and Feyanoord (also in the Champions League this year) with virtually identical salary budgets at just under $30 million US.

      So if you put the Eredivisie and MLS into the same hat and shake it up, and then rank the teams by salary budget, here’s what you’d get:

      1. Ajax ($42.5 million)
      2. Inter Miami ($41.6 million)
      3. Toronto FC ( $32.4 million)
      4. PSV ($29.8 million)
      5. Feyanoord ($29.6 million)

      Now here’s where it gets interesting: teams #6 through #32…would all be MLS teams, all with payrolls between $25.1 million (Chicago Fire) and $12.0 million (St Louis). The #4-spending team in the Eredivisie this season is Utrecht (Taylor Booth’s squad), with a payroll of just €10.2 million – or $11.1 million in US dollars.

      Just to repeat, the #4-spending team in the Dutch league would be dead last in MLS in total payroll. The team with the smallest payroll in the Eredivisie is Volendam, with a total payroll of €3.3 million – or $3.6 million US, a hair more than one-quarter of the lowest-spending MLS team. So teams #6 through #32 are all MLS squads in payroll, teams #33-#47 would all be Dutch teams.

      That’s certainly not the perception, is it? But I would posit that MLS is maybe not the league that needs to be worrying about international respect. The product’s increasingly there and improving fairly dramatically each year, and at some point even the most devout Eurosnob is going to be forced to admit it.


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