KEY POINTS

  • Messi is the highest-paid soccer player ahead of Ronaldo
  • The top 10 of the list also included Pogba and Bale
  • Ronaldo has earned $117 million in 2020

Lionel Messi has topped the Forbes list for highest-earning soccer players in 2020 after ending his weeks-long contract drama at FC Barcelona.

With yearly earnings of $126 million, Messi finished at the top spot ahead of arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo with $117 million. Next on the list were the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) duo of Neymar ($96 million) and Kylian Mbappe ($48 million).

Mbappe, who is tipped to be Messi and Ronaldo’s successor in world soccer, is currently contracted with PSG until 2022. He is being chased by several top European clubs, including Real Madrid and Liverpool. Mbappe, who has netted 117 goals since turning professional in 2015, earns $20 million annually plus performance bonuses.

The next three players in Forbes’ top 10 included were Premier League players – Mohamed Salah, Paul Pogba, and David de Gea along with Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale, who was eighth in the list at $29 million despite having a disappointing 2019-20 season, where he started only 14 competitive matches. The Welsh forward has repeatedly admitted that he wants to leave Real Madrid this summer.

Bale was recently linked with a return to the Premier League. Manchester United reportedly have shifted focus to Bale from Jadon Sancho, who has been their top target this summer. However, Sancho’s club Dortmund are not willing to reduce the player’s asking price of $140 million.

The top 10 of the Forbes list featured Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski at seventh and ninth positions respectively.

Lionel Messi has put an end to his standoff with Barcelona, for now Lionel Messi has put an end to his standoff with Barcelona, for now Photo: AFP / LLUIS GENE

After Barcelona went trophy-less in the 2019-20 season, which was their first such instance since 2008, Messi informed the club that he wanted to leave this summer. However, due to his mammoth release clause of $826 million, Argentina forward chose to remain with the club he has been associated with for almost two decades. Messi, who has scored over 600 goals for the Catalans, has led the club to many trophies over the years and also has won a record six Ballon d’Or trophies.