Cristiano Ronaldo set to overtake Lionel Messi as highest-paid footballer this season
Following his move back to Manchester United, the Portuguese superstar is forecast to earn US$125 million before taxes this season -- with $70 million coming from his salary and bonuses alone.
Messi, meanwhile, is set to earn $110 million in the 2021-22 season, making him the second-highest earner in the game.
The 34-year-old joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona this year and is anticipated to earn more than Ronaldo in terms of salary -- $75 million.
But Ronaldo -- who is the most popular athlete on social media with more than 500 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, according to Forbes -- brings in $55 million in endorsements compared to Messi's $35 million.
Messi's PSG teammates Neymar and Kylian Mbappe sit third and fourth on the list, with the duo expected to earn $95 million and $43 million respectively.
Neymar, who recently signed a four-year extension, is expected to earn more than Ronaldo in terms of on-field earnings ($75 million) but has nowhere near the same pulling power when it comes to endorsements, forecast to bring in $20 million.
Overall, the Parisian side owns three of the top five highest-earning players on the planet, as it looks to assemble a team capable of winning the coveted Champions League trophy for the first time.
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah makes up the top five, with the Egyptian expected to earn $41 million this season.
Forbes compiles its list by speaking to clubs, sponsors, player agents and financial experts and estimates the top 10 earners will collect pretax earnings of $585 million this season, an increase on last year's haul of $570 million.