Ronaldo is highest-paid player, Messi second: Forbes

Cristiano Ronaldo was the world’s highest-paid footballer — and highest-paid team athlete — last year, according to US business magazine Forbes.

Real Madrid star Ronaldo was said to have earned a total of $82 million (£56.7m), with an annual salary of $53m (£36.7m) and $29m (£20m) in endorsements.

The 31-year-old Portugal captain, who became the world’s most expensive player when he joined Madrid from Manchester United for £80m in 2009, signed a lucrative new five-year contract at the Bernabeu in 2013.

Forbes, which also ranked Real Madrid as football’s most valuable club, said Ronaldo, a three-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, is now the best-paid team athlete across all sport.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, was second in the list on $77m (£53.3m), with the 28-year-old’s $51m (£35.3m) salary augmented by $26m (£18m) in endorsements. The Argentina captain renewed his Barca contract in 2014.

Forbes reported that Ronaldo has made $550m (£380.9m) over the course of his 14-year playing career, which began with Sporting Lisbon, while Messi, who has spent his entire career with Barca, has made $450m (£311.5m) in his 11 years.

Former basketball star Kobe Bryant, who retired in April, is the only team sport athlete to have made more than Ronaldo, with Forbes reporting that he earned $680m (£470.8m) in a career that lasted 17 years.

World’s highest-paid soccer players:

Ronaldo and Messi, who have been the only Ballon d’Or winners since Kaka’s 2007 success, are some distance ahead of Paris Saint-Germain star Zlatan Ibrahimovic in third.

The Sweden captain, 34, made the bulk of his $37m (£25.6m) through his salary with the Ligue 1 champions, with only $7m (£4.84m) coming through endorsements.

Ibrahimovic is out of contract at PSG this summer and has yet to make a decision on his next move, with AC Milan and Manchester United among the potential destinations.

Barcelona and Brazil forward Neymar was named the fourth biggest earner, on $36m (£24.9m).

Forbes reports that the 24-year-old is the only footballer on the list to earn more in endorsements ($22m or £15.2m) than through his salary ($14m or £9.69m).

Neymar, who joined Barca from Santos in 2013, has been tipped to sign a more lucrative deal with the Catalan club for some time, but the agreement has reportedly been held up due to financial issues.

Luis Suarez, the third member of the Barcelona attack, was ranked eighth in the Forbes list, with total earnings of $23m (£15.9m).

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale was fifth on the list with $34m (£23.5m).

The Wales international, who overtook Ronaldo as football’s most expensive player when he joined from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, signed a six-year deal when he moved to the Bernabeu.

Forbes’ top five highest-paid footballers:

1 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): $82m (£56.7m)
2 Lionel Messi (Barcelona): $77m (£53.3m)
3 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain): $37m (£25.6m)
4 Neymar (Barcelona): $36m (£24.9m)
5 Gareth Bale (Real Madrid): $34m (£23.5m)

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