Here’s who leads Forbes’ highest paid footballers list

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Christiano Ronaldo’s big-money transfer to Manchester United has placed him above rival Lionel Messy to become highest paid soccer player for 2021, according to latest Forbes rankings.

Cristiano Ronaldo has left Italy’s Juventus to join England’s Manchester United, giving the franchise a stirring two goals on his return. Just weeks earlier Messi had announced he was leaving Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

Ronaldo is set to earn $125 million before taxes in the 2021-22 season with $70 million coming from salary and bonus for his return to United.

The rest comes from personal endorsements and partnerships with brands. Only three other active athletes make more commercially than Ronaldo: Roger Federer ($90 million), LeBron James ($65 million) and Tiger Woods ($60 million).

Messi who was knocked out of the top spot, and who is at no 2 on the list is set to earn $110 million, where he will be paid $75 million this season at PSG. The former Barcelona star will pad his PSG paycheck with an estimated $35 million in endorsements.

Forbes compiled the list after speaking to clubs, players’ agents, commercial sponsors and worldwide soccer experts, and the transfer fees are excluded.

PSG has three of the world’s five highest-paid soccer players. The 29-year-old Neymar takes the third spot with $95 million, followed by 22-year-old Kylian Mbappe with $43 million.

In total, the ten highest-paid footballers are set to collect pretax earnings of around $585 million this season, up from last year’s total of around $570 million.

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