The Barcelona and Argentina forward tops an all-football top three ahead of Juventus star Ronaldo and Brazilian icon Neymar
Lionel Messi has been named as the world’s highest paid athlete over the last 12 months, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, in the Forbes top 100 list.
The Barcelona and Argentina star earned $127m in the last year – more than Juventus forward Ronaldo ($109m) in second place and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar ($105m) in third.
It is the first time that a trio of footballers have ranked as the top three earners, while Messi becomes only the second footballer to top the rankings after Ronaldo.
The next footballer on the list is Manchester United’s Paul Pogba in 44th place, who is the highest earning Premier League player with $33m.
Former Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta (46th), who now plays his football in Japan with Vissel Kobe, is the only other player to be found inside the top 50, with earnings of $32.5m
Outside of the top 50, Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez can be found at 53, with earnings of $30.8m for the past 12 months, ahead of French superstar Kylian Mbappe in 55th ($30.6m) and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil in 57th ($30.2m).
After his move to Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG in 2017, Brazilian midfielder Oscar comes in at number 66, with his figure standing at exactly $29m.
La Liga stars Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) and Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) come in at 75 and 79 respectively, with Griezmann on $27.7 and Bale with $27.1m.
The only other footballer inside the top 100 is Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, with the Champions League winner notching 98th place with a total of $25.1m.
Last year’s highest earner, boxer Floyd Mayweather, has dropped off the list, while Serena Williams is the only woman in the top 100, earning $29.2m.
Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton and former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua are the highest earning British athletes, while number one Messi is one of 38 non-American athletes on the list, with 62 Americans in the top 100.
The NBA accounted for the most athletes with 35, with LA Lakers’ LeBron James the sport’s highest paid athlete in 8th on $89m ahead of Golden State Warriors pair Stephen Curry (9th on $79.8m) and Kevin Durant (10th on $65.4m).