Lionel Messi topped last year’s list but slips down to second for 2023 – however it is rumoured he is looking for a move to Saudi Arabia to continue to boost his already bulging bank balance.
Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo has been named the world’s highest paid athlete, thanks to a big money move to Saudi Arabia, according to Forbes.
His salary, thought to be in the region of $75m (£59m) a year, and his off the pitch activities, earned him around $136m (£108m) in the last year – the highest of any athlete on Earth, Forbes magazine has estimated.
It’s part of the business magazine’s annual collation of sports stars, which maps out who the money is going to in professional sport.
Down from first last year and coming second is Argentina’s captain Lionel Messi, who had an estimated income of around $130m (£103m) in the 12 months.
Messi, who captained his country to victory at last year’s World Cup, has a hefty wage bill at Paris Saint-Germain, and rumours suggest he could be eyeing a move to join Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, where he was pictured earlier this week.
He also has brand deals with the likes of PepsiCo and Budweiser, as well sponsorships from tech firms.
Kylian Mbappe joins his Paris Saint-Germain teammate by nabbing third place in Forbes’ list with earnings of $120m (£95m).
He is the highest salaried footballer in the world, and his endorsements include a cryptocurrency-based fantasy football game.
In fourth is LeBron James, the LA Lakers player, who has also carved out a successful business portfolio.
With earnings of around $119.5m (£95m) in the last year, his income consisted of his $44.5m basketball salary, as well as his film production work, sports investment (he is an investor in the firm that owns Liverpool FC) and nutrition brands.
Boxer Canelo Alvarez is fifth ($110m/£87m), raking millions of dollars for every fight he takes part in, as well as having brand deals with whiskey and beer companies.
Dustin Johnson, who has defected to the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, is in sixth place on the list, with earnings of $107m (£85).