The on and off-field rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi has driven a significant portion of the incredible football salaries growth, despite the duo edging closer to retirement. But the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo to Al-Nassr took the whole thing to a new level, making him the highest-paid player in the game and the highest-paid athlete in 2023.

According to the Forbes data, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner made $46 million in salary and a huge $109 million through endorsements this year, pushing his five-year total earnings to a jaw-dropping $629 million. His on-field earnings make 54% of that value, with $345 million in the last five years. Statistics show Ronaldo raked in another $284 million through sponsorships and endorsements in this period, with 2023 bringing the highest annual off-field earnings.

Although Cristiano Ronaldo beats Lionel Messi in total five-year earnings, the 2022 World Cup winner tops in on-field earnings. The Forbes data show Messi raked in $406 million through his salary between 2019 and 2023, or $61 million more than Cristiano. On the other hand, his off-field earnings are $77 million below these of the Portuguese football superstar, with Messi making $207 million through endorsements in the past five years.

Cristiano Ronaldo Doubled His Off-Field Earnings

Thanks to their rising fame, both football superstars have seen their off-field earnings skyrocket over the years. The Forbes data shows Cristiano Ronaldo more than doubled his off-field earnings in the past five years. In 2023, he raked in $90 million through endorsements and sponsorships, up from $44 million five years ago. On the other hand, his annual salary has dropped 57% in this period, plunging from $109 million in 2019 to $46 million this year.

Messi has also seen impressive growth in his off-field earnings, jumping from $35 million to $65 million in this period. But just like his rival Cristiano, Messi has also seen his salary drop in the past five years, falling by 30% from 92 million to $65 million.