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Five Highest-Paid Football Players Racked up $415M in 2021; Cristiano Ronaldo Leads with $125M in Total Earnings

Jastra Kranjec
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The year 2021 has been a pretty good year for the world’s best football players, who earned hundreds of millions of dollars through their lucrative sports contracts and heavy endorsement deals.

According to data presented by Safe Betting Sites, the world’s five highest-paid footballers, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, took home pre-tax gross earnings of around $415 million this year.

Cristiano Ronaldo Earned $125M This Year, But Messi Has the Highest Salary

In the world of football, two giant names stand out, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. As the world’s top two footballers, the two players have flipped spots over the years and continued competing in total earnings and the number of won titles.

The Statista and Forbes data show Cristiano Ronaldo edged out his rival in the 2021 rankings, earning $70 million through his salary and bonuses and a further $55 million in endorsements.

Also, 2021 made a full circle in his career. After three years in Italy, where he won the Serie A title twice and the Coppa Italia, the Portuguese star made the switch back to Manchester United ahead of the 2021/22 season, the club where he first made his name.

With $110 million in pre-tax earnings, or $15 million less than Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi ranked as the second highest-paid footballer this year. However, the Argentinean star still tops the salary and bonuses list in the football world.

After playing over 750 matches for FC Barcelona and winning 35 titles and 78 awards, including a record six Ballon d’Or trophies for the sport’s best player, Messi finally left his boyhood club in 2021 to seek a new challenge at French champions Paris-Saint Germain.

Statistics show that in 2021, Messi earned $75 million in salary and bonuses or $5 million more than his Portuguese rival. Although his new salary at PSG is a cut from what he would have made if he could have stayed at Barça, it still keeps him the sport’s highest-paid player on the pitch, along with Neymar. Endorsement deals, including a lifetime sponsorship deal with Adidas, and deals with Pepsi, Lay’s, and Budweiser, brought Messi another $35 million this year.

With $75 million earned from salary and bonuses and a further $20 million in endorsement deals, Neymar ranked as the third-highest paid football player in 2021.

Kylian Mbappé and Mohamed Salah Round the Top Five List With $84M in Combined Earnings

The next-generation leader, Kylian Mbappe, confirmed his place among the world’s best players by scoring four times as France won the 2018 World Cup. His $215 million worth transfer from Monaco to Paris Saint Germain in 2018, which made him the sports’ highest-paid teenager, remains the second most expensive in history. Also, the 22-year-old hit the Forbes top five list, with $43 million in total earnings this year. Statistics show that $28 million came from his salary and bonuses and a further $15 million through endorsements.

The TransferMarkt data also showed the French star remained the highest valued football player globally, despite its market value falling by €20 this year.

Mohamed Salah closed the top five list with $41 million in this year’s earnings. The Egyptian footballer, who has the highest win rate of any Premier League player, earned $25 million through salary and bonuses, and another $16 million from endorsement deals.

Analyzed by clubs, statistics show that three out of five highest-paid footballers play in Paris Saint Germain. Manchester United and Liverpool follow with one player on the top five list.

Jastra Kranjec
Jastra Kranjec

Jastra is an editor, writer, and PR specialist with years of experience in the news, research, and report writing. Over the years, she has covered different topics including gaming, the entertainment industry, and the tech market.

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