Forbes announce the 20 highest-paid footballers in the world

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Lionel Messi continues to reign supreme over the global game, not just on the pitch but financially too.

The Argentine was recently ranked by Forbes as the highest-paid footballer in the world, with Cristiano Ronaldo not far behind.

The appeal of the duo regarding advertisements and endorsement deals is undeniable, Messi having worked with all of Adidas, Mastercard and PepsiCo in the last year.

However, elsewhere in Forbes' top 20 there is debate to be had about merit.

Messi and Ronaldo are followed by Neymar, Paul Pogba and Andres Iniesta, the latter continuing to outshine more current stars courtesy of his career in Japan.

Alexis Sanchez, Kylian Mbappe, Mesut Ozil, Oscar and Antoine Griezmann also feature in the top 10.

Oscar and Graziano Pelle are the only players other than Iniesta to feature from outside the top European leagues.

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The former Chelsea midfielder swapped winning the Premier League, a feat which he achieved twice, for a lucrative deal at Shanghai SIPG. Despite being sponsored by Adidas, all except $2m of his $29m worth is made up of his annual salary.

As for former Southampton striker Pelle, he is set to continue in the Chinese Super League after renewing his $20.7m-a-year contract in January.

To the consternation of football romantics, many of the biggest earners have not had to work particularly hard for their earnings.

Neymar started just 16 Ligue 1 games last season, while at Manchester United, Sanchez started nine in the Premier League.

Mesut Ozil, meanwhile, missed almost a third of Arsenal's league matches over the same period.

There is an honourable mention for last year's Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric, who does not feature but is predicted to return to the list next year after agreeing an extension at Real Madrid.

The full top 20 can be seen below, with transfer fees not included.

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