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Messi joins billionaire club, tops Forbes list

Messi becomes 2nd footballer in history to join the billionaire club after topping Forbes list

September 15, 2020 By Ali M.
The Argentine might not have enjoyed a successful year in sporting terms, but 2020 has treated Leo well financially.

Despite the recent turmoil going on in Lionel Messi's life, both on and off the pitch, 2020 was a successful year financially for the Argentine. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has topped Forbes' list of the highest-earning players in 2020 and as a result, the 33-year-old icon joined the billionaire club.

La Pulga earned a staggering $125M this year, $92M of which came from Barcelona alone in salary while the remaining $34M arrived via his lucrative endorsements. This helped him cross the $1BN threshold in career earnings, becoming only the second footballer in history to achieve this.

The only other player in the billionaire list is the man who narrowly missed out on the top spot and that is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese legend earned $117M, which is just short of Leo's tally. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner outgrossed Messi in endorsements, pocketing $47M compared to the Argentine's $34M. This is understandable as Ronaldo, as Forbes rightly put it, is "the most popular athlete on the planet".

Where the 35-year-old came up short was in the salary department, earning $70M, a figure dwarfed by La Pulga's $92M wages. However, given that Cristiano is one of two footballers in the billionaire department, and fourth overall athlete alongside Tiger Woods; Floyd Mayweather; and Messi, CR7 will not lose sleep over this.

The next two players on the list are PSG men and they are – unsurprisingly – Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, coming in at third and fourth. The Brazilian pocked a total of $96M, $78M in salary and $18M in endorsements. The former Barcelona man has parted ways with Nike and is now sponsored by Puma so it will be interesting to see how this switch will affect his income in 2021.

Mbappe earned less than half of his PSG team-mate, racking up $42M in 2020, $28M of which came in the form of wages. Mohamed Salah completes the top five with $37M. Only one Bundesliga name makes this list and that's Robert Lewandowski in 9th ($28M). Check out the top 10 in the list below.

Highest-paid footballers in 2020

  1. Lionel Messi: $126M

  2. Cristiano Ronaldo: $117M

  3. Neymar: $96M

  4. Kylian Mbappe: $42M

  5. Mohamed Salah: $37M

  6. Paul Pogba: $34M

  7. Antoine Griezmann: $33M

  8. Gareth Bale: $29M

  9. Robert Lewandowski: $28M

  10. David De Gea: $27M

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