Highest-Paid Athletes List 2022: How Messi's Income Compares With Ronaldo & Neymar's Earnings

© AFP 2022 / JOSEP LAGOJuventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) walks past Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between Barcelona and Juventus at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 8, 2020
Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) walks past Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between Barcelona and Juventus at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 8, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.05.2022
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Even if the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are at the fag end of their respective careers and Neymar has continuously struggled with injuries, it hasn't diminished their global appeal. Unsurprisingly, all three superstars feature in Forbes' annual rich list of sports stars.
Lionel Messi may have failed to impress with his body of work at the Parc des Princes, but his underwhelming show in France hasn't harmed his earnings. The ex-Barcelona talisman has now been crowned as the world's highest-paid athlete by American financial magazine Forbes.
Messi topped the elite list with total earnings of $130 million, while NBA legend LeBron James was second with $121.2 million during the past year.
Meanwhile, another contender for the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) title, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Argentine's good friend and PSG teammate Neymar followed the Los Angeles Lakers superstar in the third and fourth spots respectively.
CR7 added another $115m to his bank account in the last 12 months, while the Brazilian playmaker became richer by $95m.
However, there was one similarity between the Manchester United forward and the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, as both earned $55m off the pitch, through brand endorsements and social media promotions.
Messi, however, pipped Real Madrid's all-time scorer in on-field earnings, as he took home $75m during the corresponding period, while Ronaldo received $60m from his wages and bonuses from Juventus and the Red Devils.
On the other hand, Neymar's income from deals outside the football arena pales in comparison with Messi and Ronaldo's, as he could only gather $25m through his newly signed contract with Puma in addition to his old association with the likes of Red Bull, Beats Electronics, MasterCard, DAZN, Electronic Arts, Gillette, and TCL.
But the 30-year-old, who is a key member of Mauricio Pochettino's squad in Paris, was slightly behind Messi ($75m) in on-field earnings with $70m, but was ahead of Ronaldo ($60m) in this segment.
Coming back to their footballing activities, Messi has endured a rather dismal season with the French outfit, having scored only nine goals across competitions since his arrival from Catalonia last summer, and is set to record his worst numbers since 2005.
While Neymar has been among the scorers regularly in the last couple of months, his 2021-22 campaign was marked by a prolonged absence due to an ankle injury.
Additionally, he has been in the news more for his antics than his performances in the "City of Love". Recent reports even suggest that PSG's Qatari owners are even thinking of selling him in the summer.
Messi and Neymar still have something to cheer about, as the duo, alongside Kylian Mbappe, powered PSG to a record-equalling 10th Ligue 1 title.
The failure to secure the first-ever Champions League title for PSG, however, has been considered their main failure by pundits.
In the meantime, Messi's eternal rival, Ronaldo, sparkled in England, scoring 24 goals for United in all competitions.
But he still went without any kind of silverware, as Ralf Rangnick's men bowed out in the early stages of all the tournaments, including Europe's premier club competition.
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