Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been ranked number one on Forbes 2019 list of highly paid athletes in the world earning worth $127m (£99.9m) in the past 12 months in a combination of his salary and endorsements. Forbes‘ Kurt Badenhausen noted that the cut-off to break into the top 100 was $25m(£19.6m) this year, compared to $17.3m (£13.6m) five years ago.
Messi has played 687 matches for Barcelona since his debut in 2003 and has scored 603 goals, won 33 club titles, including 10 La Liga titles. His current Barcelona contract is through 2020-21 and pays him over $80 million annually and made a life long deal with Adidas.
The Argentina legend has been awarded FIFA’s Player of the Year five times and won the European Golden Shoe for top scorer on the continent a record six times. In 2016, he was convicted of tax fraud in Spain for avoiding income tax between 2007 and 2009. His 21-month sentence was cut to a $250,000 fine.
In the second spot is the Juventus forward and all-time UEFA champions league top scorer Christiano Ronaldo who is worth $109m (£85.6m). The Portuguese forward is the most followed athlete on social media with over 400 million followers. In January, Ronaldo agreed to a $21 million fine for tax evasion between 2010 and 2014.
Brazil and Paris St-Germain’s forward Neymar D’Santos Junior in third with earnings worth $105m (£82.5m). His transfer from Barcelona to PSG stands as the most expensive in the world at $263 million, which the French club paid in full as they signed him off from Barcelona. Neymar was found guilty of avoiding taxes between 2011 and 2013 and paid a $1.2 million fine in 2016.
The fourth highest earner on the list was Mexico’s middleweight boxing star Saul Alvarez with $94 million. Tennis star Roger Federer settled for the fifth on the list with total earnings of $93.4 million.
Russell Wilson ($89.5m) and Aaron Rodgers ($89.3m) were sixth and seventh, respectively, on the list as three NBA players came in to round up the top ten on the list., LeBron James earned $89m in total with Stephen Curry having made $79.8m and Kevin Durant $65.4m.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams was the only female on the list and ranked No. 63 with earnings worth $29.2 million in the past 12 months. Mayweather who was ranked No. 1 on the list four times in the last seven years didn’t make any appearance on the top 100 this year.
The top 100 includes athletes from 25 countries and their $4 billion combined earnings are up 5% from the previous year, when Mayweather was first with $285 million.
Golfer Tiger Woods who holds a record 12 times on the top spot since 1990 settled for 11th on the list with $69.3 million, which included an estimated $54 million in endorsements.
TOP TEN FORBES RICH LIST 2019
1. Lionel Messi $127M
2. Christiano Ronaldo $109M
3. Neymar Junior $105M
4. Canelo Alvarez $94M
5. Roger Federer $93.4M
6. Russell Wilson $89.5M
7. Aaron Rodgers $89.3M
8. LeBron James $89M
9. Stephen Curry $79.8M
10. Kevin Durant $65.4M