Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo was the highest paid footballer of 2023, according to the annual list released by Forbes.

Having joined Saudi Pro League giants Al-Nassr FC in January 2023 after his second spell with Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo has earned a whopping $260 million over the last 12 months, making him the world’s highest paid athlete.

Ronaldo, who signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Al-Nassr, earns an estimated $214 million per season, making it the highest salary in world football. His weekly wage is around $3.9 million. 

Apart from his on-field earnings which include salary, prize money and bonuses, the Portuguese superstar raked in millions through multiple endorsement deals, appearance fees, licensing income and cash returns from businesses he runs.

Al-Nassr captain Ronaldo pipped long-time rival and Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi and Al Hilal SFC Neymar to become the highest paid footballer in the world.

Lionel Messi features second on the list for the highest paid football players of 2023 with total earnings of $135 million.

Messi’s former teammate and Al-Hilal forward Neymar is third on the list with total earnings of $112 million.

Neymar reportedly earns $163.7 million per year at Al-Hilal, a team he joined back in August.

PSG star Kylian Mbappé and former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema complete the top five list for the highest paid football players of 2023.

While Mbappé raked in a combined $110 million through on-field and off-field earnings, Benzema, who joined Saudi club Al-Ittihad this year, earned $106 million over the past one year.

Apart from Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane is the other player from the Saudi Pro League to feature in the highest paid football players of 2023 list. 

Manchester City forward Erling Haaland edged Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and teammate Kevin De Bruyne to become the highest paid footballer player in the Premier League.

Haaland, with total earnings of $58 million, eclipsed Salah ($53 million) and De Bruyne ($39 million). Here’s the full list of highest paid football players of 2023.

Highest paid football players of 2023






Cristiano Ronaldo

Al-Nassr FC

$260 million


Lionel Messi

Inter Miami CF

$135 million



Al Hilal SFC

$112 million


Kylian Mbappé 

Paris Saint-Germain

$110 million


Karim Benzema

Al-Ittihad Club

$106 million


Erling Haaland

Manchester City 

$58 million


Mohamed Salah

Liverpool FC

$53 million


Sadio Mane

Al-Nassr FC

$52 million


Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City

$39 million


Harry Kane

FC Bayern Munich

$34 million


Photo credit: Alamy