There are no prizes for guessing why Lionel Messi looked dejected when he returned to full training with Barcelona last week. The 33-year-old superstar was denied a long-awaited transfer away from the Spanish giants despite making it clear that he wanted to cut short his contract and leave. However, he might find solace in the Forbes list for highest-earning footballers in 2020.
According to the magazine, Messi's decision to stay put means that he stands to earn 126 million U.S. dollars this year at Camp Nou, beating arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who came in second with earnings of 117 million U.S. dollars.
Ronaldo is the most popular athlete on the planet with 457 million social media followers. /VCG
Messi's total earning is split between 92 million U.S. dollars in salary and 34 million U.S. dollars in endorsements.
With 457 million followers across his social media accounts, Ronaldo is the most popular athlete in the world. The Juventus striker was also football's first billionaire at the age of 35. But Messi has now achieved the same feat as Forbes estimates that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has earned over 1 billion U.S. dollars in pre-tax earnings during his career.
PSG have spent a huge amount of money to keep Neymar in the French capital. /VCG
Brazilian icon Neymar, who was one of five players sent off after a mass brawl at the end of PSG's 1-0 loss in Ligue 1 on Sunday, ranked third with earnings of 96 million U.S. dollars. Meanwhile, his teammate, 21-year-old Kylian Mbappe, rose to fourth and is due to earn 42 million U.S. dollars in 2020.
Liverpool talisman Salah, who just bagged himself a hat-trick in Liverpool's win over Leeds, is the highest-ranking Premier League player. The Egyptian clinched the fifth spot ahead of Manchester United midfielder Pogba in sixth. Pogba's teammate David de Gea is the only goalkeeper in the top ten.
French wonder-kid Kylian Mbappe rose three places from seventh to fourth in this year's Forbes ranking of the highest-paid footballers. /VCG
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski is the only Bundesliga player who sat in ninth. Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann was seventh, while Gareth Bale, who is reportedly willing to join United on loan if a deal can be agreed with Real Madrid, was eighth.
Liverpool's title-winning striker Mohamed Salah was the highest placing Premier League player in the list. /VCG
Forbes revealed that the top 10 are expected to pull in 570 million U.S. dollars in salary, bonuses and endorsements this upcoming season, barring no further pandemic pauses of the kind that led to the 30 percent to 70 percent pay cuts last spring across European leagues. The list's combined haul is up 11 percent from the 2019-20 season.
De Gea's 24 million U.S. dollars salary makes him the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world. /VCG
Forbes list of world's highest-paid footballers 2020
1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina) 126 million U.S. dollars2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus and Portugal) 117 million U.S. dollars3. Neymar (Paris St-Germain and Brazil) 96 million U.S. dollars4. Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain and France) 42 million U.S. dollars5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt) 37 million U.S. dollars6. Paul Pogba (Manchester United and France) 34 million U.S. dollars7. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona and France) 33 million U.S. dollars8. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid and Wales) 29 million U.S. dollars9. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland) 28 million U.S. dollars10. David de Gea (Manchester United and Spain) 27 million U.S. dollars
Should Biden administration reconsider U.S. semiconductor sanctions?
Millennia-old clothing back in vogue
APD | Khunjrab Pass re-opened to boost trade and travel between two neighbors
China, Afghanistan, Pakistan do better when they work together
Sucking up to the West won't make up Australia's trade loss with China
'So proud of you': Sports world reacts to Naomi Osaka's withdrawal from French Open