Sport

2023 Forbes Ranking: Ronaldo beats Messi to top richest footballers list (Full List)

Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-paid footballer in the world in 2023, earning more than the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar during the past 12 months, according to Forbes.

Ronaldo, who Forbes also ranks as the highest-paid athlete of any sport, topped the list with expected total earnings of $260 million.

The Portugal forward’s contract with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, who he joined from Manchester United in January, is thought to be worth $200m while his endorsement portfolio that includes the likes of Nike and Jacob & Co is estimated to be worth $60m annually, according to Forbes.

Lionel Messi was ranked second on the list with expected total earnings of $135m, boosted by his move to MLS club Inter Miami.

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Messi is the first MLS player to appear in the top 10 since David Beckham in 2012.

Brazil forward Neymar rounds out the top three with $112m in total earnings after signing for Al Hilal in the Saudi Pro League in August.

Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United to join Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr in January.FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

The influence of the Saudi Pro League is clearly seen in Forbes’ list with four players (Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mané) in the top 11 earners worldwide.

According to Forbes, the four Saudi Pro League players’ combined income counts for more than half of the $995m collectively earned by all 11 players on the rich list.

Kylian Mbappé comes in next on the rankings, narrowly behind his former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar, with total earnings of $110m.

Manchester City’s Erling Haaland was the highest-paid Premier League player with a total annual income higher than those of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and teammate Kevin De Bruyne.

Forbes said its on-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned in the past 12 months while off-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees, licensing income and cash returns from businesses they operate.

Forbes’ Top 11 highest-paid footballers list in 2023

1. Cristiano Ronaldo ($260m)

2. Lionel Messi ($135m)

3. Neymar ($112m)

4. Kylian Mbappé ($110m)

5. Karim Benzema ($106m)

6. Erling Haaland ($58m)

7. Mohamed Salah ($53m)

8. Sadio Mané ($52m)

9. Kevin De Bruyne ($39m)

10. Harry Kane ($36m)

11. Robert Lewandowski ($34m)

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