In “a blessed disaster”, the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo was torn by MU and the big European clubs turned his face simultaneously was the ladder that brought him to the “oil field” of Saudi Arabia, signed a super lucrative contract, and then have a chance to surpass Lionel Messi.

Cristiano Ronaldo may have been out of his prime since moving to the Middle East, making money for retirement for “out of date” stars. However, in the past year, Ronaldo has earned £109 million, the number that puts him first in the list of Top 10 highest-paid athletes in the world according to the latest publication of Forbes magazine.

Ronaldo had to receive a difficult end on the pitch in 2022. He was no longer loved at MU, by coach Erik ten Hag, teammates and fans. This led to a highly damaging interview with journalist Piers Morgan, prompting MU to cut Ronaldo’s contract.

However, his bitter departure at Old Trafford has made many wealthy clubs in the Middle East eager to spread money to invite this star to join the team, while the top European clubs stay away as “dodge” leprosy.

As a result, the 38-year-old player “hit the jackpot” when he signed a contract worth 175 million pounds/year with Saudi club Al-nassr in January this year. This huge profit move has brought Ronaldo back to the top of Forbes’ richest athletes list for the first time since 2017, and for the third time inhis career, with a total income of 109 million pounds, the highest figure in football history for an individual player.

An estimated £37 million of that total income has come from football thanks to salaries, compensation and new signings through two contracts with MU and Al-nassr, almost double the money earned from other fields. Off the field, despite his weekly salary of just £80,000.

Only three athletes in the history of Forbes magazine’s ranking made more than the £72 million that Ronaldo made off the field in a year: Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Conor McGregor. Right behind Ronaldo in second place is longtime rival Lionel Messi, who fell one place after topping last year’s list of the highest-paid players. The PSG superstar earned a total of £104m, the same amount he earned in 2022.

Another soccer star, Messi’s PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, is in third place after earning £96m over the past 12 months, with £80m coming from the pitch. Mbappe, the only member of the list of U30 players to receive the highest salary in the world at the Parc des Princes with a staggering figure of £63 million a year.

The 24-year-old is the last footballer in the Top 10 highest-earning athletes in the world, followed by basketball superstar LeBron James (£95m) and boxer Canelo Alvarez (£88m).
Golf star Dustin Johnson is in sixth place with £86m in the bank, while another golfer, Phil Mickelson, is in seventh place with £85m. Another basketball player is Golden State Warriors defender Stephen Curry, who is the eighth highest paid athlete in the world after earning £81m.

Roger Federer is the only tennis star to be ranked ninth, despite earning just £80,000 in total earnings, with £76 million in competition prizes.

Federer announced his retirement from professional tennis in September 2022, but the legend maintains many lucrative partnerships off the court and, recently, announced a licensing agreement for the home eyewear maker Oliver Peoples uses his RF brand.

Last on the list is Phoenix Suns basketball star Kevin Durant with £72m.

Forbes states that the on-court earnings of these ranked athletes “include all wages and bonuses earned between May 1, 2022, and May 1, 2023, while off-court earnings records. Their estimates are “estimates of sponsorship transactions, image money, in-kind and business income for the 12 months through May 1, 2023, plus interest from any business activities” run by athletes.

By Lylla

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