Ronaldo leapfrogs Messi as Forbes’ highest-earning footballer

The legendary duo remain the best-paid players in football, with PSG stars taking up three of the top four spots
Cristiano Ronaldo’s big-money move to Manchester United has helped him leapfrog Lionel Messi to become Forbes’ highest-earning footballer this year.

Ronaldo is set to earn $125 million (£91.5m) before taxes during the 2021-22 season, with $70m (£51.25m) of that coming from his salary and bonuses for his return to Old Trafford.

Messi, meanwhile, sits just behind him at $110m (£80.5m) with his new Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Neymar and Kylian Mbappe rounding out the top four.

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Forbes’ top 10 highest earners in football

Player Club 2021-22 Total earnings
Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United $125m/
Lionel Messi Paris Saint-Germain $110m/
Neymar Paris Saint-Germain $95m/
Kylian Mbappe Paris Saint-Germain $43m/
Mohamed Salah Liverpool $41m/
Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich $35m/
Andres Iniesta Vissel Kobe $35m/
Paul Pogba Manchester United $34m/
Gareth Bale Real Madrid $32m/
Eden Hazard Real Madrid $29m/

How does Ronaldo compare to other athletes?

With $55m (£40m) of his earnings coming from commercial deals, Ronaldo is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world when it comes to sponsorship earnings.

Only three other active athletes make more commercially than the Manchester United star: Roger Federer ($90m/£66m), LeBron James ($65m/£48m) and Tiger Woods ($60m/44m)

In total, the 10 highest-paid footballers are set to collect pretax earnings of around $585m (£428m) this season, up from last year’s total of around $570m (£471m).


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