As the World Cup tourney nears in Russia, Barcelona star Lionel Messi has moved above Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the rankings in the annual Forbes list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes but football lost top spot to boxing’s Floyd Mayweather.
Messi, with earnings of £82.9 million, occupies second spot behind Mayweather, with Ronaldo in third on £80.6m.
His move above Ronaldo comes after he signed a new contract at the Camp Nou, with Brazil star Neymar (£67.2m) now in fifth place following his world-record move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain last summer.
Forbes said Messi’s annual salary and bonus was more than £59m before tax, making him the year’s highest-paid player, with endorsement deals with companies including Adidas and Pepsi adding to his fortune.
Ronaldo has a place in the list’s top three for a sixth successive year, while Neymar has risen 13 places to fifth after putting pen to paper on a lucrative five-year contract with PSG.