Cristiano Ronaldo back ahead of Lionel Messi on Forbes football rich list - in pictures

Portuguese attacker leapfrogs old rival as highest-paid footballer

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Cristiano Ronaldo is back at the top of the Forbes football rich list, overtaking old rival Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo, 36, has just returned to Premier League side Manchester United from Juventus in Italy, 12 years after first leaving the English club.

And the Portuguese attacker has immediately hit the groove for United scoring four goals in his first three games.

Forbes said Ronaldo, among the world's most popular athletes with over 500 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, is set to make $125 million before taxes in the 2021-22 season, with $70m coming from salary and bonuses at United.

The rest will come from endorsements and partnerships with brands including Nike, Herbalife, Clear and his CR7 brand.

Ronaldo has made more than $1 billion in career earnings before taxes, the first team-sport athlete in the world to hit that milestone.

Messi, meanwhile, has also been on the move, leaving La Liga side Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain after 17 years having failed to agree a new contract amid the Spanish club's crippling financial problems.

The 34-year-old, who topped last year's list, will be paid a salary of $75m with an additional $35m from endorsements for total expected earnings of $110m.

You can see the top 10 highest paid footballers in the above gallery.

Updated: September 23, 2021, 11:38 AM