New research reveals planet's highest-paid athletes


New research has revealed the best-paid footballers and athletes on the planet.

ESPN compiled data on the world's wealthiest sports men and women and took into consideration their salary as well as any prize money from 2012 to the present.

The research found that Lionel Messi is the highest-paid footballer on the planet - the Barcelona ace takes home $46 million, beating off the likes off Samuel Eto'o ($26.02m) and PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($32.73m).

Both Eto'o and Messi rank as the best-paid sportsmen from Africa and South America respectively. 

Overall however it is a different story and Messi is second on the highest-paid sports stars list behind boxer Manny Pacquiao, who rakes in $52 million.

NFL ace Drew Brees is 3rd on the list ahead of Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso.

Ibrahimovic is 5th while Eto'o only just scrapes into the Top 10 in 9th place.

Only five football players make it into the 50 highest-paid athletes in the world, with Wayne Rooney earning just over $20 million to take 35th spot and Robin van Persie coming home in 47th with $18.16m to his name.

Interestingly, the data also covers highest-paid athletes by country - with Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson the best-earning sportsman in Iceland, and ex-Manchester City star Mario Balotelli earning the most in Italy.

Click here to see the full breakdown

Top 10 Highest-Paid Athletes

1. Manny Pacquiao - $52m

2. Lionel Messi - $46m

3. Drew Brees - $40m

4. Fernando Alonso - $38.5m

5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - $32.7m

6. Floyd Mayweather Jr. - $32m

7. Alex Rodriguez - $29m

8. Kobe Bryant - $27.8m

9. Samuel Eto'o - $26m

10. Vincent Jackson - $25.1m 

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