Cristiano Ronaldo becomes Forbe’s Highest paid footballer ahead of Messi. Set to earn £91.5million this season

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By Mukwuzi Joseph

Cristiano Ronaldo has overtaken Lionel Messi at the top of Forbe’s list of the highest-paid footballers in the world, with the Manchester United , with the star potentially earning £91.5million this season.

Ronaldo and Messi, two of the highest-profile players in the world today, both made transfer moves this summer to United and Paris Saint-Germain respectively during a busy window. 

Messi’s move to French giants PSG could see him earn £80.5m this season but his earnings are very much short of Portuguese star Ronaldo, 36, who made his return to Manchester after 12 years playing away from Old Trafford.

Ronaldo’s Red Devils deal could see him collect £51.25m in basic salary and performance-related bonuses, with the rest of his package coming from endorsements, including sponsorship. 

Argentina star Messi, meanwhile, has a higher basic salary and bonus structure than Ronaldo – earning £54.94m per year – but he only collects £25.6m in annual sponsorship payments, compared to Ronaldo’s yearly sum of £40m.  

Had Messi stayed at former club Barcelona this summer, with the Spanish giants letting him leave on a free transfer as they could not afford to keep him, he would have easily been named as Forbes’ highest-paid footballer as his total earnings in Spain sat at £95.24m per year.

The 34-year-old was handed a £71m a year package by Barcelona last season but the Catalans let him go just before they announced a debt of £1.15billion last month. 

Both Messi and Ronaldo will earn less this season than previous years, despite earning brand new contracts following their moves. 

Ronaldo was just behind Messi on last season’s list released in May of this year, earning a £87.91m overall potential package including endorsements.

Messi’s PSG team-mates Neymar and Kylian Mbappe sit third and fourth on the list respectively, with the Brazilian signing a new £54.95m a year contract in May, meaning he earns the same amount as Messi in terms of basic salary and bonuses.

However, Neymar picks up slightly less money than Messi in endorsement fees, with the Brazilian earning £14.65m in this category. 

Mbappe, whose PSG contract runs out at the end of this season, earns £31.5m a season, including £20.5m from PSG in salary.

Mohamed Salah is the second best-paid Premier League player behind Ronaldo, with Liverpool’s Egyptian star set to earn £30m a year overall, with the majority of that fee coming in salary and bonuses.

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is next on the list with potential earnings of £25m while 37-year-old Andres Iniesta is the seventh-highest paid player in the world despite playing for Japanese club Vissel Kobe, who pay him £22.7m in basic salary. 

Paul Pogba joins United team-mate Ronaldo in the top ten on £24.9m while Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale is the best-paid British player on £23.4m. His fellow Los Blancos star Eden Hazard completes the top ten on £21.25m.

FORBES TOP TEN HIGHEST EARNERS IN FOOTBALL 2021-22

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – £91.5m ($125m)

Salary: £51.25m

Endorsements: £40.25m 

2. Lionel Messi – £80.5m ($110m)

Salary: £54.95m

Endorsements: £25.6m 

3. Neymar – £69.5m ($95m)

Salary: £54.95m

Endorsements: £14.6m 

4. Kylian Mbappe – £31.5m ($43m)

Salary: £20.5m

Endorsements: £11.5m 

5. Mohamed Salah – £30m ($41m)

Salary: £18.3m

Endorsements: £12.7m 

6. Robert Lewandowski – £26m ($35m)

Salary: £19.8m

Endorsements: £6m

7. Andres Iniesta – £26m ($35m)

Salary: £22.7m

Endorsements: £3.3m 

8. Paul Pogba – £25m ($34m)

Salary: £19.8m 

Endorsements: £5.2m 

9. Gareth Bale – £23.5m ($32m)

Salary: £19m

Endorsements: £4.5m

10. Eden Hazard – £21m ($29m) 

Salary: £19m

Endorsements: £2m 




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