Lionel Messi is the best-paid soccer player in the world, according to prestigious magazine France Football. The Argentine four-time Ballon d’Or winner is now the highest-paid player, earning more than his Portuguese rival, Real Madrid foward Cristiano Ronaldo. Endorsements, contracts, and personal performance all helped to build Messi’s earnings up to $71.2 million dollars per year. Ronaldo, on the other hand, registers earnings of $59.1 million a year.
Messi is the top earner for the second year in a row, and for the fifth time since 1999, when France Football – the publication that doles out the Ballon d’Or – started publishing annual lists of the richest fútboleros. Before the Argentino, soccer players lagged far behind US star athletes in terms of their bankability – but Messi out-earns nearly all of them now, making just slightly less than boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. ($95 million per year) and Lebron James ($75 million a year).
Messi’s endorsements and commercial deals include a long-standing contract with Adidas, Turkish Airlines and EA Sports, in addition to his $35 million “basic” salary with Barcelona.
Rounding out the list are Neymar Jr., the third highest-paid soccer player at around $40 million a year, just ahead of his his teammate Thiago Silva, who comes in at $ 30.1 million a year. Other Latino players who made the ranking are Argentines Sergio Kun Aguero ($23 million), and Angel Di Maria ($20 million), who is tied with Colombian Radamel Falcao. Brazilian David Luiz completes the brat pack with annual earnings of $18.8 million.
Here is the full ranking published by France Football this week.