Cristiano Ronaldo Reclaims Top Spot From PSG’s Lionel Messi.
Cristiano Ronaldo tops this year’s list of world’s ten highest paid football players, dethroning PSG’s Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo is set to earn $125 million before taxes in the 2021-22 season, with $70 million coming from salary and bonus for his return to Manchester United. The rest of his earnings comes from personal endorsements and partnerships with brands including Nike, Herbalife, Clear and his CR7 branded portfolio that includes perfume, underwear, eyewear, hotels, gyms and more.
Roger Federer ($90 million), LeBron James ($65 million) and Tiger Woods ($60 million) are the only three active athletes that make more money commercially than the Portugal international.
Ronaldo ditched the black and white stripes of Italy’s Juventus for the red and white of England’s Manchester United this year, a club he spent seven years at before signing for Real Madrid in 2009.
Longtime rival Lionel Messi holds down the No. 2 spot on the list with $110 million. The 34-year-old was forced to leave his boyhood club after Spain’s La Liga clamped down on FC Barcelona’s overzealous wages. Messi spent 21 years at Barcelona before signing with french club PSG, where he will be paid $75 million this season. The rest of his earnings, which amounts to an estimated $35 million comes from his deals with the likes of Adidas, Pepsi, watchmaker Jacobs & Co and Budweiser, which he just picked up last year under a three-year deal.
Brazil and PSG star forward Neymar wraps up the Top 3 with with $95 million. 22-year-old Kylian Mbappe lands at No. 4 on the list with $43 million. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, 29, rounds out the top five with $41 million.
In total, the ten highest-paid soccer players, per Forbes are expected to collect pre-tax earnings of $585 million this season, up from last year’s $570 million. Salary and bonus make up the bulk of the total—$415 million—and are up a modest 2.6% from last year as most clubs continue to be cautious with their finances due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In May, UEFA, Europe’s governing body of soccer, released a report that said its top-flight clubs were facing a whopping $8.5 billion pandemic-related revenue loss, putting a damper on major player movement.
To compile the list, Forbes had conversations with clubs, players’ agents, commercial sponsors and worldwide soccer experts. All figures are converted to U.S. dollars using the current exchange rate and include salaries (pre-tax) for the 2021-22 season, bonuses and endorsements. Transfer fees are not included.
Checkout the full top ten below.
- Cristiano Ronaldo – $125 million
- Lionel Messi – $110 million
- Neymar Jr – $95 milliom
- Kylian Mbappe – $43 million
- Mohamed Salah – $41 million
- Robert Lewandowski – $35 million
- Andres Iniesta – $35 million
- Paul Pogba – $34 million
- Gareth Bale – $32 million
- Eden Hazard – $29 million