Lionel Messi has trumped Cristiano Ronaldo for the second time this year.
First, the Barcelona star beat Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or. And a report in France Football - brought to our attention by The Sun - claims Messi is pocketing more than his biggest rival, too.
Messi remains football’s highest earner, claiming a stunning £59.25 million-per-year. That’s £5m more than Ronaldo’s £54m pay packet.
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Messi’s earnings rose by €9m from 2015, a reflection on how highly Barcelona rate their star man.
It’s no surprise that football’s biggest two top the rich list. Neymar, Messi’s Barcelona teammate, is third, raking in £35m-a-year.
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What is surprising, however, is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not Paris Saint-Germain’s top earner. That honour goes to Manchester United flop Angel di Maria, who makes £19m.
That’s £1m more than the Swede, who reportedly is requesting £600,000-per-week from his next club.
France Football’s estimated figures are based on players’ pre-tax salaries, sponsorship revenues and various bonuses.
Add in endorsements and Messi’s and Ronaldo’s earnings are significantly improved.
And it doesn’t stop there. Mundo Deportivo reported earlier in the year that the Argentine is in for a pay rise, his yearly wages increasing from €22.8m to €39.4m
Messi has been linked with a move to PSG or a reunion with Manchester City but, though those rumours have rarely had much substance anyway, it’s unlikely that the 28-year-old will risk harming his legacy by leaving the Camp Nou.
Quite how the striker manages to remain motivated when he’s won it all and is a multi-millionaire is a testament to his attitude.
Barca's rocky patch
The Barcelona forward - suffering a rare goal-drought having gone four games without finding the net - has still managed to find the net 39 times in a campaign that is on the verge of coming off the tracks.
The Catalan giants were cruising to a successive La Liga title but losses to Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, which followed a draw at Villarreal, have closed Barca’s game to three points from Atletico Madrid.
In the Champions League, Atletico’s away goal leaves Barca in a perilous position despite their 2-1 advantage.
But Luis Enrique was quick to erase fears of a collapse after Sunday’s surprise defeat to Sociedad.
"But we are still leaders, with a four-point advantage," he said, per ESPN FC. “To speak negatively does not help the team. Now we must lift ourselves up and leave this nice stadium which is not a good place for us.
"Last year at this stage we just had a two-point advantage, without the goal average. This is a marvellous chance to show we are the best team in the world, as it says on our shirt."
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