Oaxaca.-When it comes to measuring the greatest protagonists of the most beautiful game, the focus is inevitably on Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, a couple of rivals with names recognized by all and who claim to be the only athletes in team sports to earn $ 1 billion in their careers. But it is time to make room for a third.

Messi and Cristiano once again top the Forbes annual ranking of the highest-paid footballers, after Messi ended the drama of his contract. Messi takes the top with 126 million dollars (million dollars), beating Cristiano, second place, with 117 million dollars. However, soccer fans have a new object of fascination: Kylian Mbappe, the Paris Saint-Germain striker, who reached fourth place with $ 48 million.

Mbappe is the rising star of both the Parisian club and the French national team with the 103 goals he has scored in all competitions since his professional debut 5 years ago. At the age of 19 he became the youngest player to score a goal in the World Cup since the legendary Pelé did the same (in 1958, at the age of 17), helping France win the second world championship in its history. Mbappe is ahead of the two leaders when they were his age: the winner of two goalscoring titles in French Ligue 1 accumulates 12 more goals than Messi at 21 years old and 76 more than Cristiano.

And Mbappe also earns more than they did at his age. The boy from Bondy, a poor Paris suburb, became the sport’s most expensive teenager for the $ 215 million Paris Saint-German paid his former team, Monaco, for his rights in 2017, signing a contract that will allow him to win. give $ 28 million this season. Nike and luxury watch brand Hublot advertise it everywhere and EA Sports advertised it as their cover for FIFA 21, making him the youngest ever to appear solo in that title.

The 21-year-old was once again surpassed on the list by his teammate Neymar (third, with $ 96 million), but the dynamics are already in place for Mbappe to advance with a new contract in 2022, when the current one expires.

Overall, the world’s ten highest-paid footballers will be taking in $ 570 million in salary, bonuses and sponsorships this season, notwithstanding the pandemic hiatus that led to cuts of 30% to 70% in European leagues this spring. The amount of the complete list is 11% higher than that of the 2019-2020 season.

Here the Top 10 of the highest paid footballers in the world

1.- Lionel Messi, Barcelona

Total income: $ 126 million

Salary: $ 92 million

Sponsorships: $ 34 million

It took 105 years for Barcelona FC to win 64 trophies before Messi lined up in 2005. In the past 16 years, he has led the team in 34 trophies, a performance that ranks him alongside the greatest in the world. sport and that has led him to earn 1,000 in pre-tax income. This year, he filled the soccer world with drama for weeks as he fought with his club over the final year of his contract. In the end he stayed and will charge 92 million dollars for it. However, the eyes of the world will be on him in 2021 in order to know what his next play will be.

2.- Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

Total income: $ 117 million

Salary: $ 70 million

Sponsorships: $ 47 million

Cristiano is the most popular athlete in the world with 457 followers on his social networks. He is also the most committed, according to Hookit, frequently showing off his 0% body fat and good looks in his sports and lifestyle brand CR7, in advertisements for health and wellness sponsors such as Herbalife and shampoo. Clear, as well as those of its longtime sponsor, Nike. In July, Cristiano uploaded a video in which he narrates a letter of encouragement he wrote for Julia Rosado, a 10-year-old Brazilian soccer prodigy, as well as the explosion in tears of pleasure with which she received it, along with a last edition of the ball Flight Ball by Nike. Cristiano is only the second footballer in history, after Iranian Ali Daei, to score more than 100 goals in national team games, surpassing that mark in the UEFA Nations League against Sweden.

3.- Neymar Jr., Paris Saint-Germain

Total income: $ 96 million

Salary: $ 78 million

Sponsorships: $ 18 million

The 28-year-old Brazilian striker, one of the most widely divided players in the game due to his behaviors on and off the pitch, quadrupled his income (and criticism) when he traded Messi and Barcelona for settling in with Paris Saint -Germain in 2017. Between his commission for the record transfer of $ 263 million and his salary of $ 70 million, PSG has spent more than 600 million dollars to have him in the French capital. This summer, Nike ended its relationship with Neymar, for which it signed with Puma. In the opening match of Ligue 1 2020-2021, Neymar earned a red card for hitting Álvaro González of Marseille on the back of the head. Neymar says that this is how he responded to racial abuse.

4.- Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain

Total income: $ 42 million

Salary: $ 28 million

Sponsorships: $ 14 million

For the second year in a row, Mbappe was the winner of the Ligue 1 Golden Boot, having scored the most goals in the league. His club also repeated as league champion, having declared himself this way for the highest score in the season that interrupted the coronavirus pandemic. Mbappe has had to spend the first game of Ligue 1 2020-2021 in quarantine due to testing positive for Covid-19, but his lawyer says he is asymptomatic.

5.- Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Total income: $ 37 million

Salary: $ 24 million

Sponsorships: $ 13 million

Salah has scored at least 20 goals in all competitions in the last three seasons with Liverpool, guiding the club to its first Premier League title in 30 years in the 2019-2020 season. He has the most winning average in any league, starting more than 100 games. In the first game of the 2020-2021 season he scored a hat trick. In February, the 28-year-old star joined his sponsor Vodafone to be an ambassador for a United Nations program that brings educational digital tools to refugees in his native Egypt.

6.- Paul Pogba, Manchester United

Total income: $ 34 million

Salary: $ 28 million

Sponsorships: $ 6 million

Pogba’s current contract ends in the summer of 2021, however Manchester United have the option to extend it for one more year. The French star gave his fans a scare in August by posting on his social media that he had signed with Verdansk FC. However, it was a fictional club, part of a campaign by his sponsor Actinvision to promote Call of Duty: Warzone, Seanso 5. The 27-year-old has also appeared alongside Messi and Salah in the “Play Never Stops” campaign. by Pepsi.

7.- Antoine Griezmann, Barcelona

Total income: $ 33 million

Salary: $ 28 million

Sponsorships $ 5 million

Since the disappointing debut for Barcelona last season, rumors have been sparked that the club is negotiating to transfer him to PSG in exchange for Neymar at Messi’s request. Griezmann is a rabid fan of the Brooklyn Nets, often traveling to the US to watch them play and posts his support on social media. The Nets’ Kevin Dutant even collaborated with Barça to get Griezmann to change his number from 17 to 7 prior to the 2020-2021 season. In January, it launched Grizi Esports to compete in FIFA, Fortnite, CS: Go, and Rainbow Six.

8.- Gareth Bale, Real Madrid

Total income: $ 29 million

Salary: $ 23 million

Sponsorships: $ 6 million

Bale continues his altercations with his coach Zinedine Zidane and is the most expensive bench warmer in sports today. He only played in 2 of Real Madrid’s last LaLiga games and was left out of the 24-player Champions League poster in early August. The Welshman is an avid golfer and has promoted TaylorMade products and events on social media.

9.- Robert Lewandoski, Bayern Munich

Total income: $ 28 million

Salary: $ 24 million

Sponsorships: $ 4 million

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, France Football, organizer of Ballon d’Or, decided to cancel the 2020 award for the best player in the world. With that, he stripped Lewandoski, who was the clear favorite to win the trophy. In all competitions, the Pole participated in 65 goals during the previous Bayern Munich season, with 55 touchdowns and 10 assists in 47 games. In the Champions League he scored in every game, except in the final against PSG, which his club won with a goal from teammate Kingsley Coman. Off the court, Lewandoski is one of the most popular athletes on TikT ok, with 2.4 million followers.

10.- David de Gea, Manchester United

Total income: $ 27 million

Salary: $ 24 million

Sponsorships: $ 3 million

De Gea’s $ 24 million salary makes him the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world. In July he made his 400th appearance under the arc in his ninth year with Manchester United and broke his team’s record for most games without goals conceded. His wife is the famous Spanish singer and steelmaker Edurne, whom he has been married to since 2010. De Gea constantly promotes Edurne’s work on his social media accounts.


To compile this list, we spoke with clubs, player agents, commercial sponsors and soccer experts from both the US and Europe. All figures have been converted to US dollars and include early 2020-2021 salaries, bonuses, and endorsements. Transfer bonuses are included. All income is before taxes.