If you can’t win trophies, you can always make good money trying to do so. Major League Soccer has long attracted superstars from America and beyond with its rich bank balances and the lucrative contracts it can offer players. While MLS prodigies may be future earners, we’re looking at those currently bringing in top dollar as MLS’ highest-paid players in 2023.
Highest Paid MLS Players 2023
All figures supplied by Spotrac are correct in GBP as at 9 February 2023.
10 – Lucas Zelarayan, Columbus Crew
Lukas Zelarayan, an Armenian born in Argentina, may be one of the most famous names.
However, he is now on one of the biggest salaries in MLS. The attacking midfielder has been one of the most exciting sides for the Columbus Crew franchise in 2022, justifying his £3,224,000-a-year contract.
While 2023 should be another exciting campaign at Lower.com Field, Zelarayan’s contract has less value to the franchise statistically because Columbus won’t be playing in the CONCACAF Champions League this year, giving him less opportunity to prove his worth. value:
9 – Luis Araujo, Atlanta United
After doing the impossible in France, knocking Paris Saint-Germain out of their league with Lille, Luis Araujo moved a little closer to his native Brazil to earn good money with Atlanta United. £3,432,000 for the calendar year does more than keep the lights on for sure.
While he won’t be happy with his defensive teammates, he got the 2023 preseason off to a good start, scoring a brace in a 3-3 draw with Chattanooga FC. Once again, delivering his worth and confirming his salary.
8 – Carlos Vela, LAFC
No one can argue that Carlos Vela doesn’t deserve to be one of MLS’ highest paid players in 2023. His contribution not only to Los Angeles FC but to the entire league is well worth the money.
The former striker of the Mexican national team has received many individual awards. These include the MVP Award, the Golden Boot and the MLS Player of the Year ESPY Award. The latter, won by legends of the game such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa and David Beckham.
Is it any wonder that the constant goalscoring threat for the reigning champions collects a £3,640,000 check every year?
Given his accolades and ability for the club, he can questionably ask for a raise, especially given the numbers Toronto FC is putting up. If he ever finds himself at the level of his last few coppers (unlikely), he could easily be worth a bigger contract based on his accomplishments in Major League Soccer.
7 – Christian Benteke, DC United
Although not one of MLS’s new signings this season, Benteke will look to justify his contract wages with a fresh start in 2023. The former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace striker earns £3,744,000 a year.
The DC United accounting department can quickly resolve this contract. That’s because the 45-times-capped Belgium international hasn’t provided much value since joining in August 2022. He has scored just once in seven MLS matches, a 3-2 loss to Inter Miami.
6 – Facundo Torres, Orlando City
Facundo Torres could be linked with Arsenal in the winter transfer window but has yet to comment on the speculation. Furthermore, he seems more interested in watching his boyhood club Peñarol in Uruguay, commenting that he tries to visit the ground as often as his commitments with Orlando SC allow.
His £5,200,000 season certainly fits the bill, but for the most part it doesn’t seem like it’s on the money. Regardless of whether Arsenal match his salary or not, he is rumored to want to lift Orlando to the top of Major League Soccer, and fans believe he could win the MVP award.
5- Hector Herrera, Houston Dynamo
The Houston Dynamo aren’t usually known for splashing the cash or offering lucrative contracts to foreign players. Brad Davies, Jeff Cameron and Ricardo Clarke are some of the biggest names in the club’s history and were all American.
Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera, 32, bucks that trend somewhat with a £4,628,000-a-year deal. The deal was later extended until the end of the 2024 season, despite not having the best start to his MLS career.
Since joining in the summer of 2022, he has played just 10 matches. These resulted in him scoring zero goals and setting up a solo goal. He was, however, handed the captain’s armband, showing that the franchise believes he will prove his worth over time.
4 – Chicharito, LA Galaxy
At one time, Javier Hernandez led the list of MLS’s biggest salaries. £5,200,000 a season is hardly chump change, but the LA Galaxy striker is no longer in the top three earners as other clubs have invested more.
The former Manchester United icon has been a consistent performer at Dignity Health Sports Park, scoring 15+ goals in the last two seasons. That said, it failed to bring any silverware to the club.
While it’s not entirely his fault, this salary isn’t particularly good value for the club as he hasn’t played postseason football in the past two campaigns. If the Mexican wants to continue receiving such money, then he needs to revitalize the team and at least get them to the playoffs in 2023.
3 – Federico Bernardeschi, Toronto FC
The Italian’s job in Toronto may not be quite the steal as the 1969 film of the same name, however, Federico Bernardeschi may be holding Toronto FC to ransom if the silverware at BMO Field doesn’t show up soon.
His £5,460,000-a-year fee may dwarf Insigne’s earnings, however, and the former Juventus man will be an integral cog in Bob Bradley’s system.
2 – Xherdan Shaqiri, Chicago Fire
Former Premier League players are typically the highest paid players in MLS in 2023. On £7,072,000 a year, Xherdan Shaqiri has had spells at Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. In fact, he is still a key part of the Swiss team and played in the World Cup last year.
While he offered the same quality he’s shown throughout his career, his Chicago Fire teammates simply weren’t up to his level in 2022. It seems like a very expensive luxury to have him on a team that didn’t make the playoffs.
1 – Lorenzo Insigne, Toronto FC
It’s no surprise that the Serie A superstar and Napoli legend, who now lives in Toronto, tops the 2023 list of MLS’ highest-paid soccer players. £12,168,000 may sound like a lot of money, well actually no, it is objectively a lot. That’s almost as much as entries two and three on this list combined.
His pay packet is almost certainly boosted by the fact that his abilities have not diminished in Serie A. Moreover, he is still only 31 years old. That doesn’t even take into account the massive amount of media attention and coverage the Italian footballer brings to the club. Since he is essentially the leader of Major League Soccer, the Toronto FC board will build the future around him and rather expect success for the money they spend.