According to data presented by, the world's five highest-paid footballers, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, took home pre-tax gross earnings of around $415 million this year.

Ronaldo v’s Messi

In the world of football, two giant names stand out, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. As the world's top two footballers, the two players have flipped spots over the years and continued competing in total earnings and the number of won titles.

The Statista and Forbes data show Cristiano Ronaldo edged out his rival in the 2021 rankings, earning $70 million through his salary and bonuses and a further $55 million in endorsements.

Also, 2021 made a full circle in his career. After three years in Italy, where he won the Serie A title twice and the Coppa Italia, the Portuguese star made the switch back to Manchester United ahead of the 2021/22 season, the club where he first made his name.

With $110 million in pre-tax earnings, or $15 million less than Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi ranked as the second highest-paid footballer this year. However, the Argentinean star still tops the salary and bonuses list in the football world.

After playing over 750 matches for FC Barcelona and winning 35 titles and 78 awards, including a record six Ballon d'Or trophies for the sport's best player, Messi finally left his boyhood club in 2021 to seek a new challenge at French champions Paris-Saint Germain.

Statistics show that in 2021, Messi earned $75 million in salary and bonuses or $5 million more than his Portuguese rival. Although his new salary at PSG is a cut from what he would have made if he could have stayed at Barça, it still keeps him the sport's highest-paid player on the pitch, along with Neymar. Endorsement deals, including a lifetime sponsorship deal with Adidas, and deals with Pepsi, Lay's, and Budweiser, brought Messi another $35 million this year.

With $75 million earned from salary and bonuses and a further $20 million in endorsement deals, Neymar ranked as the third-highest paid football player in 2021.