Barcelona icon Lionel Messi from Argentina became the second player in history to reach the milestone of $1 billion in pre-tax earnings.
The first and the only other footballer to reach this dream figure is Messi’s arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi also staved off competition from Ronaldo to earn the crown of the highest-paid footballer for the year 2020, according to Forbes. The iconic footballer is reportedly set to earn an astounding $126million (€106m) this year, which comes from his Barcelona salary of $92m (€78m) and an additional $34m (€28m) through endorsements.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the most popular athlete in the world with 457 million social media followers – is second on the list of Forbes’ highest-paid footballers, with a total earning of $117 million. While Brazilian soccer star Neymar is in third on the Forbes list with earnings of $96 million, his Paris St Germain teammate, 21-year-old Kylian Mbappe from France occupies the fourth spot with earnings of $42 million and is, by far, the youngest footballer on the list.
Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mo Salah rounded up the top five with a cool $37 million in earnings.
Salah’s Premier League star Paul Pogba is just behind him in sixth place with $34 million. Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann ($33m), Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale ($29m), Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski ($28m) and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea ($27m) complete the top 10.
According to Forbes, the top ten players in the world are expected to pull in a whopping $570 million in salary, bonuses and endorsements this upcoming season.