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Egypt’s Mo Salah is no.5 as Cristiano Ronaldo retakes top spot in list of world’s highest earning footballers



Cristiano Ronaldo has overtaken Lionel Messi to retake top spot in football’s rich list following the pair’s summer transfers.

According to Mirror, Portuguese icon Ronaldo has been crowned the world’s richest player by Forbes magazine after he rejoined Manchester United from Juventus, just weeks after Messi completed his own stunning transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.

Ronaldo – who has already been named as the first team sport athlete in the world to earn over a billion dollars in their career pre-tax – is projected to earn some more £91.5million in the 2021-22 season thanks to a combination of his United wages and several lucrative endorsement deals.

His move back to United – who he left for Real Madrid back in 2009 – has been met with a wave of nostalgia at the Old Trafford club, where social media posts featuring Ronaldo have broken records and shirt sales have rocketed.

Ronaldo’s old rival Messi left Barcelona after 21 years with the club this summer, and has taken an initial salary cut to join big-spending PSG – although his new wages are still the largest in football.

It is off the pitch where he loses out to Ronaldo though, with lucrative endorsement deals making the Portuguese the biggest ticket in the sport.


Messi is projected to earn some £80.5million on and off the pitch this season, with his new teammates Neymar – whom he also played with at Barcelona – and Kylian Mbappe next up in the list.

Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah is the highest-earning player in the Premier League  at around £30m for the 2021-22 season, with the Egyptian’s huge celebrity in Africa helping his on-pitch earnings. Salah is currently in negotiations over a new contract at Liverpool which would push his salary higher.

Manchester United star Paul Pogba is the only other Premier League player in the top 10, while there are places for former Premier League stars Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard – both of Real Madrid.

Forbes Magazine’s top 10 highest-earning footballers for 2021-22 are as follows:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £91.5m


2. Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £80.5m

3. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £69.5m

4. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £31.5m

5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £30m

=6. Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £26m


=6. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £26m

8. Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £25m

9. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £23.5m

10. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

2021-22 earnings (salary + endorsements): £21m


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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