Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar: Who are the world's highest-paid footballers?

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Barcelona's Lionel Messi is the highest-earning footballer in the world.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has made no shortage of headlines over the summer after submitting a transfer request to leave his boyhood club after a 19-year collaboration.

But just as a shock transfer to Manchester City looked to be inevitable, disagreements over Messi's contract at Camp Nou meant that club and player will continue to work together.

Messi earns billionaire status

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu held crisis talks with Messi's father and agent, Jorge, after the player refused to participate in training, eventually coming to a mutual agreement.

It remains to be seen whether Messi will remain at Barcelona for merely another season or if he'll extend his deal before next summer, but his wallet certainly won't be suffering in the meantime.

It's long been acknowledged that Messi is one of the highest-earning footballers in the world and was hot on heals of Cristiano Ronaldo, who became the beautiful game's first ever billionaire.

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Messi and Ronaldo top the earnings

And now Forbes are claiming that Messi resolving his contract dispute has elevated the Argentine into that ten-figure promised land in their latest report on football earnings.

Their report notes that Messi and Ronaldo are 'the only team-sport athletes to earn $1 billion during their careers' and the two superstars unsurprisingly top the 2020 list of top earners.

Forbes formulate their figures based on conversations players’ agents, commercial sponsors and football experts from both sides of the pond, including both club wages and endorsements.

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Football's highest-earning players

You can check out the full list down below to see which players come the closest to rivalling Ronaldo and Messi's continentally-sized bank balances:

10. David de Gea (Manchester United) - $27 million

Salary: $24 million

Endorsements: $3 million

9. Robert Lewandowski - $28 million

Salary: $24 million

Endorsements: $4 million

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8. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) - $29 million

Salary: $23 million

Endorsements: $6 million

7. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona) - $33 million

Salary: $28 million

Endorsements: $5 million

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6. Paul Pogba (Manchester United) - $34 million

Salary: $28 million

Endorsements: $6 million

5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) - $37 million

Salary: $24 million

Endorsements: $13 million

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4. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) - $42 million

Salary: $28 million

Endorsements: $14 million

3. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain) - $96 million

Salary: $78 million

Endorsements: $18 million

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2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) - $117 million

Salary: $70 million

Endorsements: $47 million

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - $126 million

Salary: $92 million

Endorsements: $34 million

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GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

Wowwwwwww. I'm starting to wish my mother just locked me in my bedroom with a football for three years until I emerged ready to take the Premier League by storm.

It's simply staggering how much Ronaldo and Messi have become superstars over the last 15 years and Neymar is the only player who can come within $50 million of their monster wages.

Mbappe, who finds himself in fourth place with a World Cup winners' medal to boot, falls a monumental $84 million behind Messi despite just being a teammate away from the podium.

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And although Ronaldo has to settle for second place overall, he can at least reassure himself with the fact that nobody pockets more from endorsements than the highly-marketable Portuguese.

Then again, let's not split hairs about tens of millions of dollars, rather let's all come to accept that we're in the wrong industry here. Do Chelsea still need a goalkeeper? Frank? Frank???

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