Lionel Messi Knocked Off Top of World’s Highest-Paid Athletes List

Lionel Messi

Getty Barcelona captain Lionel Messi waves to the crowd

Lionel Messi has been knocked off the top of the world’s best-paid athletes list by tennis great Roger Federer.

The Barcelona captain was named the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time in 2019 by Forbes, with earnings of $127 million. However, the Argentina international has dropped down to third place in 2020 behind Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Federer.

The Swiss tennis ace took home $106.3 million of pre-tax earnings which includes salary/winnings and endorsements. Ronaldo is next on the list with earnings of $105m, while Messi comes in at $104m.

Messi’s former Barcelona team-mate Neymar is fourth on the list. LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Tiger Woods, Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz fill out the rest of the top 10.

Crunching the Numbers

Messi’s earnings over the last 12 months saw him take home $72m in salary/winnings and make $32m from endorsements. It’s a big difference to Federer’s numbers which come predominantly from his sponsors. A massive $100m of his $106m earnings come from endorsements, according to Forbes’ report.

The Barcelona captain signed his most recent contract at the club in 2017.  Football Leaks reported the deal means he earns €2m-a-week, around €100m-a-year, and includes a buyout clause of €700m.

Messi announced in March that he and his team-mates at Barcelona would be taking a 70 percent pay cut, and making additional contributions, to help out the club during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 32-year-old also made donations to healthcare institutions to help in the battle against coronavirus. He donated €500,000 to the Fundación Garrahan in Argentina and donated €1 million to a hospital in Barcelona.

Messi Set for New Deal

Messi’s contract expires in 2021 and renewing the captain is president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s top priority, according to Juan Jimenez at AS.

Barcelona has in the past offered lifetime contracts to some of their legends, such as Andres Iniesta, and it seems likely they will do the same for Messi.

Bartomeu told the Associated Press about his plans for the club captain in November. He said: “Leo Messi’s contract finishes in 2021. But surely it will be the will of all parties involved, if he feels strong and with ambition, to extend this contract indefinitely.”

Messi will turn 33 in June and is heading towards the end of his phenomenal career but is certainly showing few signs of slowing down just yet. He missed the start of the season through injury but still tops the goals and assists charts in La Liga in 2019-20.

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