Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo top this year’s Forbes ranking of the highest paid soccer players once again.
But it is Kylian Mbappé who is the rising star of the list. He is fourth on the list of highest paid footballers this year, earning a cool $48 million (R781 million).
France’s World Cup winning superstar has scored 103 goals in all competitions since turning professional five years ago. At 19, he became the youngest player to score a World Cup goal since the legendary Pelé – who did it in 1958 aged 17 – while helping the French team win its second title in history.
Mbappé is ahead of the game’s two leaders when they were his age. The two-time top scorer in France’s Ligue 1 already has 12 more career goals than Messi had at age 21 and 76 more than Ronaldo.
Messi toped the list earning $126 million – including endorsements – while Ronaldo came in second with $117 million.
Mbappé was edged out of the top three by PSG teammate and Brazil superstar Neymar who earned $96 million, but with the French star set to renew his contract in 2022 (unless one of the richer clubs buys him) he could end up on top.
In all, the top 10 players in the world are expected to pull in $570 million in salary, bonuses and endorsements this upcoming season, barring no further pandemic pauses of the kind that led to the 30% to 70% pay cuts last spring across European leagues.
The list’s combined haul is up 11% from the 2019/20 season.
Ronaldo still tops the endorsement earnings racking in $47 million, while Messi earned $34 million. Neymar’s measly $18 million comes in third with Mbappé again in fourth with $14 million.
Mohamed Salah is the highest ranked African on the list at fifth with total earnings of $37 million. The Egypt striker’s endorsements are $13 million.
Paul Pogba ($34 million), Antoine Griezmann ($33 million), Gareth Bale ($29 million), Robert Lewandowski ($28 million) and David de Gea ($27 million) round out the top 10.
Transfer fees are excluded and earnings are pretax. – Forbes