#5 Paul Pogba
Salary/Winnings: USD 25 million
Endorsements: USD 4.5 million
After departing from his former club to become a free agent in 2012, Manchester United paid a grand total of GBP 89 million to Juventus in order to bring Pogba back in 2016. The fee made the Frenchman the most expensive footballer back then. According to Forbes, the 25-year-old earns a total of USD 29.5 million annually as a result of his USD 25 million worth salary and USD 4.5 million from endorsements. The midfielder has a 10-year deal with Adidas worth an estimated USD 31 million. The German sportswear maker also launched a high-end street culture clothing line with his name.
#4 Gareth Bale
Salary/Winnings: USD 28.6 million
Endorsements: USD 6 million
Citizenship: United Kingdom
In 2013, the Welshman was bought by Real Madrid for a record-breaking transfer fee of GBP 90 million. Since then, he has inspired Los Blancos to a La Liga, 4 Champions League titles, 2 UEFA Super Cups and 2 FIFA Club World Cups. As of now, the 28-year-old international grosses USD 34.6 million annually with USD 6 million from endorsements and a salary of USD 28.6 million. Manchester United is considered a top contender. Like the club at Old Tafford, Bale has an endorsement deal with Adidas, which locked him up through 2020.
Salary/Winnings: USD 73 million
Endorsements: USD 17 million
Paris Saint-Germain emptied a host of coffers to fork out GBP 198 million last summer in order to pull the Brazilian to Parc des Princes. According to Forbes, Neymar earns a salary of USD 73 million and obtains USD 17 million from endorsements, creating a total earning of USD 90 million annually. The Brazilian international works off the pitch with global sponsors Nike, Red Bull, Gillette, McDonalds and Beats by Dre. He was the first soccer player to have his own custom Air Jordan sneakers made by the Swoosh.
#2 Cristiano Ronaldo
Salary/Winnings: USD 61 million
Endorsements: USD 47 million
The Real Madrid 33-year-old megastar has a total earning of USD 108 million which is a result of USD 61 million from salary and USD 47 million from endorsements. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has deals with Nike, Herbalife, EA Sports and American Tourister, along with a growing line of CR7 branded products. He remains the most popular athlete in the world with 322 million social media followers.
#1 Lionel Messi
Salary/Winnings: USD 84 million
Endorsements: USD 27 million
The Barcelona star signed a contract extension at the end of the last year, which will keep him at the Nou Camp through 2020-21. The 30-year-old receives an aggregate of USD 111 million as a result of USD 84 million from salary and USD 27 million from endorsements. The Argentine finished the 2017-18 season as the top scoring player in the top 5 European leagues with 45 goals in all competitions. He has a lifelong deal with Adidas and a number of other deals including Gatorade, Pepsi, Ooredoo, Huawei and Hawkers. A theme park based on him, Messi Experience Park, is set to open in 2020 in the Chinese city of Nanjing.