Lionel Messi is the world’s wealthiest footballer, according to Forbes, after a report on his earnings put him above rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s total earnings this year are $126 million — $92m from his salary and $34m in endorsements.
Ronaldo comes in second, although earnings of $117m will soften the blow for the Juventus forward, as will his status as the most followed soccer player in the world on social media.
Neymar is third on the Forbes list ($96 million) with his Paris Saint-Germain teammate, 21-year-old Kylian Mbappe, up in the fourth spot ($42m).
The Premier League remains the world’s richest domestic league, but only two of its outfield players feature in the top 10 of the wealth table: Liverpool’s title-winning striker Mohamed Salah in the fifth spot ($37m) and Manchester United’s midfielder Paul Pogba ($34m) in sixth. Pogba’s teammate, keeper David de Gea ($27m), is 10th.
Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann is seventh, and Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale eighth. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, the only Bundesliga player, is ninth.
Messi reluctantly agreed this month to stay at Barcelona for another season, despite saying in the wake of an 8-2 Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich that he wanted out.
He argued that a clause in his contract stating that a €700m buyout fee would need to be met for him to join another club was no longer active and that he could leave on a free transfer — a situation that would have allowed him to command astronomical wages from the likes of Manchester City.
Messi, 33, is in the final year of his contract, so he could leave for free next summer. By staying with the Catalan club, Messi is in line for an $83m loyalty bonus, so it is likely he will continue to top the money charts.