Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's career earnings compared since 2011

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the most handsomely rewarded athletes on earth.

And so they should be. They’ve been the two best practitioners of the world’s most popular sport after all.

They’ve swept up literally countless amounts of individual and team honours in their shared 15 year reign at the sports’s pinnacle, which has of course brought along with it immeasurable fame and fortune.

So much so, that the duo have cleaned up over one billion dollars each in career earnings.

But, as ever with these two, comparisons are simply compulsory.

Which of the iconic superstars has earnt more over the years? And interestingly, how have their career earnings grown year on year across the last decade or more.

Take a nosy through and see for yourself below. We’ll start with Messi.

Quick note: We just had to take a second to credit our friends at PlanetFootball for their brilliant research on the matter – all the data they collated was gathered from Forbes’ annual list of the 100 highest paid athletes in the world.

Lionel Messi

2011
Position in Forbes top 100: 10th
Salary: $13.65million
Endorsements: $18.65million
Total: $32million

2012
Position in Forbes top 100: 11th
Salary: $20million
Endorsements: $19million
Total:$39million

2013
Position in Forbes top 100: 10th
Salary: $20.3million
Endorsements: $21million
Total: $41.3million

Messi celebrates at Barcelona.

2014
Position in Forbes top 100: 4th
Salary: $41.7million
Endorsements: $23million
Total: $64.7million

2015
Position in Forbes top 100: 4th
Salary: $51.8million
Endorsements: $22million
Total: $73.8million

2016
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $53.4million
Endorsements: $28million
Total: $81.4million

2017
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $53million
Endorsements: $27million
Total: $80million

Messi Barcelona

2018
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $84million
Endorsements: $27million
Total: $111million

2019
Position in Forbes top 100: 1st
Salary: $92million
Endorsements: $35million
Total: $127million

2020
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $72million
Endorsements: $32million
Total: $104million

2021
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $97million
Endorsements: $33million
Total: $130million

2022
Position in Forbes top 100: 1st
Salary: $75million
Endorsements: $55million
Total: $130million

Total earnings since 2011: $1.0142billion

Lionel Messi in action for PSG

Incredibly, Messi has seen a growth of nearly $100m in his annual pay across the past eleven years.

And now for the comparison you’ve all been waiting for…

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Cristiano Ronaldo

2011
Position in Forbes top 100: 7th
Salary: $15.6million
Endorsements: $18.4million
Total: $38million

2012
Position in Forbes top 100: 9th
Salary: $20.5million
Endorsements: $22million
Total: $42.5million

Crsitiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil

2013
Position in Forbes top 100: 9th
Salary: $23million
Endorsements: $21million
Total: $44million

2014
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $52million
Endorsements: $28million
Total: $80million

2015
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $52.6million
Endorsements: $27million
Total: $79.6milion

2016
Position in Forbes top 100: 1st
Salary:$56million
Endorsements: $32million
Total: $88million

Cristiano Ronaldo

2017
Position in Forbes top 100: 1st
Salary: $58million
Endorsements: $35million
Total: $93million

2018
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $61million
Endorsements: $47million
Total: $108million

2019
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $65million
Endorsements: $44million
Total: $109million

2020
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $60million
Endorsements: $45million
Total: $105million

Cristiano Ronaldo - a goalscoring machine in 2020!
Cristiano Ronaldo – a goalscoring machine in 2020!

2021
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $70million
Endorsements: $50million
Total: $120million

2022
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $60million
Endorsements: $55million
Total: $115million

Total earnings since 2011: $1.0221billion

So, there you have it. Manchester United and Real Madrid legend Ronaldo narrowly pips Messi when it comes to the financial bragging rights.

Although we have to say, Messi’s been doing a good job of clawing back the deficit ever since 2018.

Above all, though, this bit of research just goes to show how much football finance has exploded in recent seasons.

I mean, anyone care to venture a guess as to how much Kylian Mbappe would have accumulated in career earnings by 2035?

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