Ronaldo outclasses Messi, others, now highest paid athlete


Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo has beat his arch-rival Lionel Messi to emerge as the world’s highest-paid athlete.

This latest development is contained in Forbes’ annual rich list released on Tuesday May 2, 2023.

Ronaldo attained the height after collecting an incredible £109million over the past year.

This is after the former Real Madrid goal poacher endured a difficult end to 2022 on the pitch after falling out of favour at Manchester United, which led to an explosive tell-all interview with Piers Morgan that brought his second stint at the club to an abrupt close.

The 38-year-old hit the jackpot when he put pen to paper on a staggering £175million-a-year contract with Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr in January this year.

That lucrative switch has propelled him back to the top of Forbes’ athlete rich list for the first time since 2017 and the third time overall, with an overall income of $136million (£109million) the highest figure from a footballer in history.

An estimated $46million (£37million) of that income has come on the field – which Forbes say ‘blends together his two contracts for this season and accounts for his brief unemployment’ – while close to double the amount has come through off-field endorsements.

Other Top-rated Athletes 

Messi is second in the list after earning £104million

Only three athletes in Forbes’ history have beaten his off-field total of $90million (£72million) in a year – Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Conor McGregor. 

Another football star, Messi’s PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe, follows him in third place after raking in $120million (£96million) over the past 12 months, $100million (£80million) of which came on the pitch.

Mbappe, the only member of the list under the age of 30, takes home the heftiest salary in world football at the Parc des Princes on an astonishing £63million-a-year, Dailymail reports.

The 24-year-old is the final footballer in the top 10, with basketball icon LeBron James ($119.5million/£95million) and boxing master Canelo Alvarez ($110million/£88million) coming next.

Golf star Dustin Johnson is in sixth place after banking $107million (£86million), $102million (£90million) of which came through competition, just ahead of Phil Mickelson in seventh on $106million (£85million).

Another basketball player, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, is the eighth highest-paid athlete on the planet right now after sweeping up $100.4million (£81million).

Al Nassr vs Real Madrid rumour

Meanwhile, Ronaldo has been tipped for a sensational move back to Real Madrid, just three months after signing for Al Nassr.

Since arriving at Al Nassr, Ronaldo has 12 goals to his name, most recently scoring in his side’s 3-0 victory over Al Raed on Friday. 

His current club are currently second in the Saudi Pro League standings, three points behind leaders Al Ittihad, who have a game in hand.