Highest annual earnings for a footballer (current year)
Lionel Messi
130,000,000 US dollar(s)
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According to estimates published by Forbes, the highest-earning footballer was Lionel Messi (Argentina), who reportedly earned $130 million (£103.3 million) in the 12 months up to 1 May 2022.

This also made him the highest-earning athlete overall on the Top 50 list. The next two highest-earning athletes of the year, according to Forbes, were basketball player LeBron James (USA) on $121.2 m (£96.3 m) and fellow soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) on $115 m (£91.4 m).

Messi signed an endorsement deal, worth $20 m (£15.9 m), in March 2022 with fan-engagement app Socios. Additionally, he introduced his own clothing brand and opened his first retail outlet, the Messi Store, in Barcelona, Spain, in 2019. Messi also has a long-term contract with sportswear brand Adidas.

According to Forbes, Messi's on-the-pitch earnings ($75 m) were more than his off-the-pitch income ($55 m).