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Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo Top Highest-Paid Soccer Players List | The Countdown | Forbes

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When it comes to measuring the greatest players in the world’s most beautiful game, the focus inevitably turns to a pair of rivals with household names and exclusive claims to being the only team-sport athletes to earn $1 billion during their careers. It may be time to make room for a third.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo top this year’s Forbes ranking of the highest-paid soccer players once again, after Messi resolved a weeks-long contract drama to land the top spot with $126 million, nudging out Juventus’ Ronaldo, who comes in at No. 2 with $117 million. But soccer fans have a new object of fascination in Kylian Mbappe, the Paris Saint-Germain striker who lands in fourth place with $48 million.

Mbappe is the rising hot shot of both the Paris club and the French national team, having amassed 103 goals in all competitions since turning professional five years ago. At age 19, he became the youngest player to score a World Cup goal since the legendary Pelé (who did it in 1958 at age 17) while helping the French team win its second title in history. He’s ahead of the game’s two leaders when they were his age: The two-time top goal-scorer in France’s Ligue 1 already has 12 more career goals than Messi had at age 21 and 76 more than Ronaldo.

He’s also making a heck of a lot more than they were at his age, too. The kid from Bondy, a poor Parisian suburb, became the sport’s most expensive teenager when Paris Saint-Germain shelled out $215 million to his former club Monaco for his rights in 2017 and signed him to a contract that will pay him $28 million this season. Nike and luxury watchmaker Hublot both feature him prominently, and EA Sports announced him as its cover boy for FIFA 21, making him one of the youngest ever to grace that brand’s cover solo.

The 21-year-old is topped on the list once again this year by teammate Neymar (No. 3, $96 million), but the dynamic is poised to shift as Mbappe is expected to get a bumper new contract in 2022 when his current contract expires.

In all, the top ten players in the world are expected to pull in $570 million in salary, bonuses and endorsements this upcoming season, barring no further pandemic pauses of the kind that led to the 30% to 70% pay cuts last spring across European leagues. The list’s combined haul is up 11% from the 2019-20 season.

Read the full profile on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinasettimi/2020/09/14/the-worlds-highest-paid-soccer-players-2020-messi-wins-mbappe-rises/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=countdown&cdlcid=5d680f5c195063fa4ff25570&sh=5c808d941cff

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