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Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and the Five Highest Earning Football Players in 2023
- Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated football over the last decade
- The two football veterans are amongst the richest football players in the world
- Sports Brief takes a look at the five highest-earning football players of this year
Football remains one of the most financially rewarding sporting endeavours.
Operating within a multi-billion-dollar industry, individuals endowed with exceptional talent often find themselves achieving substantial financial success.
Over time, football has consistently provided numerous elite stars with a multitude of opportunities to amass wealth through salaries, bonuses, endorsements, and investments.
As 2023 gradually draws to a close, Sports Brief highlights the five highest-earning footballers through the year.
Football's top 5 earners in 2023
5. Karim Benzema: $106 million
The former Real Madrid captain, mirroring Cristiano Ronaldo's path, finalised his move to Saudi Pro League club, Al-Ittihad earlier this summer.
This transfer catapulted Benzema up the ranks of the highest-earning football players, with his on-field income surging to approximately $100 million, while his off-field earnings are reported to be around $6mil, according to reports from Forbes.
4. Kylian Mbappe: $110 million
The Paris Saint-Germain forward is believed to have accumulated a total income of $110mil during 2023.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Mbappe's future, his lucrative endorsement agreements with notable brands, such as Nike, Hublot, and Sorare have significantly contributed to his substantial off-field earnings, ensuring a substantial paycheque throughout the year.
3. Neymar Jr: $112 million
The Brazilian forward has sponsorship, including deals with Puma, Konami, and Red Bull. According to Forbes, he reportedly earns approximately $32mil in fees from these brands. Additionally, Neymar's transfer to the Saudi Pro League club, Al-Hilal has also come with a range of accompanying perks.
2. Lionel Messi: $135 million
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The on-field income of the Argentine forward is approximated at $65mil, attributed largely to his transfer to the Major League Soccer franchise, Inter Miami. Off the field, it is estimated he earns around $70mil.
Messi's move to the Herons has generated unprecedented fan interest in the MLS, leading to a substantial increase in the club's revenue, as reported by Goal. Additionally, the World Cup-winning Argentinean has secured endorsement deals with various brands such as Adidas, Mastercard, Pepsi, and Saudi Arabia's Tourism Authority.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo: $260 million
In 2023, Ronaldo not only secured the top spot as the highest-earning footballer but also emerged as the highest-paid athlete across all sports, according to Forbes. His contract with Saudi Arabian club, Al-Nassr is reportedly valued at approximately $200mil.
Complementing this, his endorsement deals with major brands such as Nike, Tag Heuer, Louis Vuitton, Jacob, and others contributed to an estimated annual income of around $60mil. Additionally, the veteran's agreement with Al-Nassr includes other incentives from commercial partnerships facilitated by the club, further increasing his earnings.
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Ronaldo to sue Juventus over wages
Sports Brief also previously reported on Ronaldo reportedly preparing a lawsuit against Juventus for a substantial sum of £17 million in alleged unpaid wages.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner had agreed to defer his salary with the Italian club to assist with their financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Portuguese veteran has reportedly already approached the prosecutor's office in the city of Turin and has since decided to take action against his ex-club.