Cristiano Ronaldo Beats Lionel Messi as World’s Highest Paid Footballer

Cristiano Ronaldo
Photo Credit: Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Since his return to Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo has been in imperious form, scoring goals at will. What we now know is that in 2021, the iconic striker will make $15 million more than Lionel Messi, making him the highest-paid footballer in the world.

In Forbes’ list released on Tuesday, Ronaldo, who has more than a half-billion social media followers — Facebook 149 million, Instagram 344 million, and Twitter 94.3 million– reclaimed the top spot.

Ronaldo is anticipated to make $125 million (£91.5 million) before taxes during the 2021-22 season, with $70 million (£51.25 million) from his salary and bonuses for his return to Old Trafford. In this article, we look at Forbes‘ top 5 highest-paid footballers in the world in 2021.

With $125 million in earnings, Cristiano Ronaldo is at the top of the list. The Portuguese get $70 million in pay and $55 million in brand sponsorships out of the 125.

Lionel Messi is the second highest-paid footballer after Cristiano Ronaldo. The Argentine earns a total of $110 million after joining Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain in the transfer window before the season.

Lionel Messi, 34, was knocked off the top spot by his longtime rival, Lionel Messi, 34, who jumped to PSG for $75 million this season after 21 years at Barcelona—and a soap-opera year of exit drama—boosting him to No. 2 on the list with $110 million.

FC Barcelona was forced to stop negotiations with Messi, the club’s record six-time world player of the year, who had played for Barça since he was 13 years old after Spain’s La Liga put a wage ceiling on the team. He’ll earn an estimated $35 million in endorsements from firms including Adidas, Pepsi, Jacobs & Co., and Budweiser, with whom he just signed a three-year contract last year.

Neymar Jr, the third player on the list, earns a total of $95 million. With a $43 million salary, Kylian Mbappe, a forward for France and Paris Saint-Germain, is fourth on the list.

Football’s top 10 earners

Cristiano Ronaldo

Man Utd


Lionel Messi






Kylian Mbappe



Mohamed Salah



Robert Lewandowski

Bayern Munich


Andres Iniesta

Vissel Kobe


Pogba Paul

Man Utd


Gareth Bale

Real Madrid


Eden Hazard

Real Madrid


According to the study, Mohamed Salah earns a total of $41 million. His annual salary is $25 million, with $16 million coming from brand partnerships.

This season, the top ten soccer players are expected to earn $585 million in pretax earnings, up from $570 million last season. The majority of the total ($415 million) is made up of salaries and bonuses, which are up 2.6 percent from the previous year as most teams remain cautious in the aftermath of mounting Covid-19 difficulties.

In May, UEFA, Europe’s governing body of soccer, released a report estimating that the pandemic had cost its top-flight clubs $8.5 billion in revenue, thereby halting major player mobility.

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