Months after reported $200 million move, Cristiano Ronaldo outshines Lionel Messi and Neymar as the highest-paid footballers

Football stars are regarded as some of the wealthiest athletes globally, earning substantial wages from club football and lucrative brand deals. The influx of money and investors in modern club football has significantly transformed the sport’s revenue landscape.

The top three names in football, notably Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar Jr., are the highest-paid stars, with the Al-Nassr star emerging on top among the other two in terms of earnings.

Ronaldo surpasses Messi with $260 million income

Every year, Forbes publishes a list of the richest footballers, showcasing their earnings from endorsements and contracts while providing insights into their global financial impact, influence, and marketability.


It’s no surprise that the Portuguese superstar and global sports icon, Cristiano Ronaldo, is the world’s highest-paid athlete. Not only does he top the list of highest earners in football, but he also leads the entire sporting world.

According to Forbes, Cristiano Ronaldo ranks higher in earnings than the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar in the past 12 months. The Portuguese star is projected to be the world’s highest-paid sportsman in 2023, with estimated earnings of $260 million.

The World Cup winner, Lionel Messi, and Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. secured the 2nd and 3rd spots on the list, respectively. Other notable names include the French starlet duo Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema and Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, also the highest-paid player in the Premier League. Alongside Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane.

Lionel Messi estimatedly earns $135 million with his MLS club Inter Miami, making him the first MLS player to be featured on the list. Meanwhile, Neymar, contracted with Saudi Pro League giants, earns approximately $112 million.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s $200 million Al Nassr contract

Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr in January from Manchester United, a move that significantly encouraged more footballing stars to join Saudi Pro League clubs. The Portuguese star reportedly earns more than $200 million, with an additional $60 million generated through endorsements and brand deals, including partnerships with Nike, Louis Vuitton, and various other avenues.

In addition to all that, Cristiano Ronaldo has also become the top earner on Instagram for the third time in a row.

Four out of the 11 names on the Forbes top-paid footballers list play in Saudi Pro League clubs: Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Karim Benzema, and Sadio Mane. They have all recently moved to the Middle East on lucrative deals, and many other stars might follow the same path next summer.

What do you think of the list of the highest-paid footballers? Do you see a player potentially missing out? Make sure to tell us what you think in the comments.


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