Cristiano Ronaldo Beats Lionel Messi as Highest Paid Footballer

Cristiano Ronaldo has been in imperious form since his return to Manchester United, hitting goals at will. What we now know is that the legendary striker will be the highest-paid footballer in 2021, earning $15 million more than Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo, who has more than a half-billion social media followers (Facebook 149 million, Instagram 344 million, and Twitter 94.3 million), recovered the top spot in Forbes’ list released on Tuesday.

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

Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list with $125 million in earnings. Out of the 125, the Portuguese earns $70 million in salary and $55 million in brand sponsorships.

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

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

After Spain’s La Liga imposed a cap on FC Barcelona’s wage spending, the club was obliged to end 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. He’ll supplement his PSG salary with an estimated $35 million in sponsorships from companies like Adidas, Pepsi, Jacobs & Co., and Budweiser, which he just signed a three-year agreement with last year.

The third player on the list, Neymar Jr, earns a total of $95 million.

Kylian Mbappe, a forward for France and Paris Saint-Germain, is fourth on the list, with a salary of $43 million.

Mohamed Salah earns a total of $41 million, according to the report. His annual compensation is $25 million, with brand sponsorships bringing in $16 million.

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


The 10 highest-paid soccer players are set to make $585 million in pretax earnings this season, up from $570 million last year. Salary and bonus accounts for the majority of the total ($415 million), and are up 2.6 percent from last year as most clubs remain cautious in the wake of growing Covid-19 strains.

UEFA, Europe’s governing body of soccer, released a report in May claiming that its top-flight teams were facing a $8.5 billion income loss due to the pandemic, putting a stop to major player movement.

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