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Messi tops Forbes’ 2022 best-paid athletes list — ahead of Lebron James, Ronaldo

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Lionel Messi, Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain star, was the highest-paid athlete in the world over the last 12 months, according to Forbes.

The former Barcelona forward topped the list released on Wednesday with pre-tax gross earnings of $130 million, ahead of Lebron James, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball player ($121.2m); and Cristiano Ronaldo, his fierce rival ($115m).

Forbes said its on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned during the 12-month period while off-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income.

It added that the year’s list covers the period from May 1, 2021, to May 1, 2022.

Messi, who moved to PSG after almost two decades in Catalonia, earned $130 million during the period in view, a figure that includes $55 million in endorsements.

However, his earnings dropped by $22 million due to a reduced salary package from what he was paid at Barcelona.

James, on the other hand, increased his earnings to $121.2 million, breaking the $96.5 million record for an NBA player on the list he set last year.

There was no change in earnings for Cristiano Ronaldo, with his $115 million financial muscle stagnating following his transfer from Juventus to Manchester United.

The 37-year-old is also reported to have turned down a $6 million endorsement deal to work commercially with Saudi Arabia, a controversial offer that was taken up by Messi.

This is the second time Messi would top the annual best-paid athletes’ list, first achieving the feat in 2019.

FORBES’ TOP 10 BEST-PAID ATHLETES 2022

1. Lionel Messi $130 million
2. Lebron James $121.2 million
3. Cristiano Ronaldo $115 million
4. Neymar Jr. $95 million
5. Steph Curry $92.8 million
6. Kevin Durant $92.1 million
7. Roger Federer $90.7 million
8. Carnelo Alvarez $90 million
9. Tom Brady $83.9 million
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo $80.9 million

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