Many people dream of becoming professional athletes and making a living from the sport they love, but very few can achieve it. Many soccer players have said that they have sacrificed many things to become professionals. But the effort is worth it.

If becoming a professional soccer player is difficult, imagine how hard it must be to become one of the best in the world. Very few players remain in the history of soccer due to their great performances and awards won.

The truth is that being one of the best players in the world has its advantages. The best athletes are usually the ones with the highest salaries on the team, the ones with the most sponsorships, and, therefore, the ones who earn the most money.

Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar among the top 10 highest-paid athletes 

Forbes published an article revealing who were the top 10 highest-paid athletes over the last 12 months. The first place is occupied by Lionel Messi, followed by LeBron James, and in third place is Cristiano Ronaldo. Neymar is fourth, Stephen Curry fifth, Kevin Durant sixth, Roger Federer seventh, Canelo Alvarez sixth, Tom Brady ninth, and Giannis Antetokounmpo tenth.

Collectively, the world’s ten highest-paid athletes raked in $992 million over the last 12 months. Off the field, the top ten athletes hauled in an estimated $500 million from endorsements, appearances, memorabilia, and licensing fees, as well as the cash returns from businesses they operate and equity stakes they sold.

Lionel Messi

It was a year of changes for Lionel Messi, the Argentine left Barcelona after 17 years and joined PSG as a free agent. Soccer aside, it was one of the best years for the 34-year-old, according to Forbes, with $130 million in pre-tax gross earnings over the last 12 months, Messi claims the top spot in Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes. This is the second time the PSG player has held this position, the first was in 2019.

As reported by Marca, Messi earns 40,000,000 euros per year ($41 million). Although Forbes estimates that Messi’s salary is down some $22 million from his final year with Barcelona—to $75 million this season at PSG and that the vast majority of his income was derived from sponsorships. For example, in March, Messi signed a deal worth $20 million annually with Socios, a fan engagement app built on blockchain technology. In addition, the Argentine has contracts with Adidas, Budweiser, and Pepsi. Also, in June, he became Hard Rock International’s first athlete brand ambassador. Messi matches Cristiano Ronaldo with his off-field earnings for the first time since 2013.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo left Juventus in 2021 to join Manchester United. The Portuguese had a great individual season, but the Red Devils were a very weak team. According to Forbes, Cristiano Ronaldo had earnings of $115 million, On-Field: $60 Million and $55 Million Off-Field.

Much of Ronaldo’s earning power comes from his massive social media presence. The large number of followers he has (only on Instagram he has 440 million), makes many brands want to patronize him. Nike, Herbalife, and Clear shampoo are some of his sponsorships. He is also an investor in Tatel restaurants and is the face of ZujuGP, a forthcoming app aiming to be a digital soccer community.


Since Neymar arrived at PSG, he has never been able to perform at his best. As reported by Marca, the Brazilian is the highest paid player in the world, he earns 48,996,000 euros per year ($50.million). Also, according to Forbes, Neymar had earnings of $70 Million On-Field and $25 Million Off-Field. Off the field, he has a valuable set of endorsements, including Puma and Red Bull, and he is the subject of a new Netflix docuseries, Neymar: The Perfect Chaos. He is also diving into the world of NFTs, signing with the platform NFTSTAR in November and spending over $1 million on two Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs in one day in January.