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Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo has emerged as the highest paid footballer 2024, according to the annual list released by Forbes.

Al-Nassr forward Cristiano Ronaldo pipped Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) talisman Kylian Mbappé to be listed as the highest paid footballer in the world.

As per the Forbes list, Ronaldo also edged Spanish professional golfer Jon Rahm to become the world’s highest paid athlete, leading the list for the fourth time in his career with an estimated total earnings of $260 million.

Since his much-talked about transfer from Manchester United to Saudi Pro League giants Al-Nassr, Ronaldo earned a whopping $200 million annual salary at his club over the last 12 months.

Apart from his massive on-field earnings, the Portuguese star raked in $60 million through multiple endorsement deals, including with his partners crypto exchange Binance and fitness app Erakulis. Nike, Herbalife, Clear Hair Care and recently, Whoop are some of the other brand deals Ronaldo has ties with.

Additionally, the Portugal national football captain is also owed a $10.5 million check from his former club, Juventus, after an arbitrator ruled the Serie A team was still on the hook for outstanding wages dating back to a Covid-19 pandemic pay cut.

On the other hand, Lionel Messi earned $135 million over the past one year, largely thanks to his huge $65 million annual salary with Inter Miami, which is now the second-most valuable franchise in Major League Soccer (MLS) at $1.03 billion. 

Messi also earned another $70 million off the field, from his numerous endorsement deals including Adidas, Apple, Konami and Lowe’s.

Apart from Ronaldo and Messi, PSG forward Kylian Mbappé features sixth in the top 10 list of highest paid athletes in the world and is currently the third highest paid footballer.

The French professional footballer raked in a combined $110 million through on field and off field earnings. Mbappé currently earns $90 million at PSG while the remaining $20 million has come through various endorsements.

Neymar and Karim Benzema are the other two players from the Saudi Pro League to feature in the highest paid football players 2024 list. Get list of highest paid footballers 2024.

Highest paid footballers 2024

Athlete 

On-Field

Off-Field

Earnings Value

Overall Ranking

Cristiano Ronaldo

$200 million

$60 million

$260 million

1

Lionel Messi

$65 million

$70 million

$135 million

3

Kylian Mbappé 

$90 million

$20 million

$110 million

6

Neymar

$80 million

$28 million

$108 million

7

Karim Benzema

$100 million

$6 million

$106 million

8

Highest paid athletes 2024

Athlete 

Sport

On-Field

Off-Field

Earnings Value

Overall Ranking

Cristiano Ronaldo

Football

$200 million

$60 million

$260 million

1

Jon Rahm

Golf

$198 million

$20 million

$218 million

2

Lionel Messi

Football

$65 million

$70 million

$135 million

3

LeBron James

Basketball

$48.2 million

$80 million

$128.2 million

4

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Basketball

$46 million

$65 million

$111 million

5

Kylian Mbappé 

Football

$90 million

$20 million

$110 million

6

Neymar

Football

$80 million

$28 million

$108 million

7

Karim Benzema

Football

$100 million

$6 million

$106 million

8

Stephen Curry

Basketball

$52 million

$50 million

$102 million

9

Lamar Jackson

American football

$98.5 million

$2 million

$100.5 million

10

Photo credit: Alamy

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