Comparing Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo’s vast earnings since 2011

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Composite image of Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Manchester United in the Premier League and Lionel Messi playing for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, both in 2022.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated world football for the past 15 years with Barcelona and PSG, and Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United respectively. And both men have used their incredible skill and fame to bank over a billion US Dollars in salaries and endorsements.

It is since 2011 that Messi and Ronaldo’s earning power has really taken off.

Every May or June, the business magazine Forbes puts together a list of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world over the previous 12 months and 2011 was the first year the football superstars featured in the top 10, with Messi in 10th and Ronaldo in seventh on that occasion.

Ever since, the financial might of the Messi-Ronaldo industrial complex has grown like Japanese knotweed and in 2016, the pair featured as number one and number two on the Forbes list for the first time, with Ronaldo earning $88million to Messi’s $81.4million in the financial year from 2015 to 2016.

The only footballer to come above Messi and Ronaldo in any of the years since 2011 is David Beckham who was sixth on Forbes’ list in 2011, and eighth in 2012 and 2013. And the only player to come close to the pair more recently is Messi’s current PSG team-mate Neymar, who first featured in Forbes top 10 in 2018, the year after his lucrative transfer to the French capital.

Over the 11 years in question here, Ronaldo has earned more than Messi on seven occasions. But Messi’s earning powers have outstripped those of his great rival more recently, with the Argentine topping Ronaldo on the list in four of the past five years.

But how much have they earned? What’s the breakdown between salaries and endorsements? And which of the two GOAT contenders has banked more in total since 2011?

We’ve got the full rundown of Messi and Ronaldo’s earnings here. All information listed below is from Forbes and is therefore in US Dollars. Whatever currency you use, though, the figures are pretty obscene.

Lionel Messi

2011
Position in Forbes top 100: 10th
Salary: $13.65million
Endorsements: $18.65million
Total: $32million

2012
Position in Forbes top 100: 11th
Salary: $20million
Endorsements: $19million
Total:$39million

2013
Position in Forbes top 100: 10th
Salary: $20.3million
Endorsements: $21million
Total: $41.3million

• • • • 

READ: Where are they now? The Barcelona B XI from Messi’s last game in 2005

• • • • 

2014
Position in Forbes top 100: 4th
Salary: $41.7million
Endorsements: $23million
Total: $64.7million

2015
Position in Forbes top 100: 4th
Salary: $51.8million
Endorsements: $22million
Total: $73.8million

2016
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $53.4million
Endorsements: $28million
Total: $81.4million

2017
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $53million
Endorsements: $27million
Total: $80million

2018
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $84million
Endorsements: $27million
Total: $111million

2019
Position in Forbes top 100: 1st
Salary: $92million
Endorsements: $35million
Total: $127million

2020
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $72million
Endorsements: $32million
Total: $104million

2021
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $97million
Endorsements: $33million
Total: $130million

2022
Position in Forbes top 100: 1st
Salary: $75million
Endorsements: $55million
Total: $130million

Total earnings since 2011: $1.0142billion

READ: Comparing Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo’s stats in the 2020s so far

Cristiano Ronaldo

2011
Position in Forbes top 100: 7th
Salary: $15.6million
Endorsements: $18.4million
Total: $38million

2012
Position in Forbes top 100: 9th
Salary: $20.5million
Endorsements: $22million
Total: $42.5million

2013
Position in Forbes top 100: 9th
Salary: $23million
Endorsements: $21million
Total: $44million

2014
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $52million
Endorsements: $28million
Total: $80million

2015
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $52.6million
Endorsements: $27million
Total: $79.6milion

2016
Position in Forbes top 100: 1st
Salary:$56million
Endorsements: $32million
Total: $88million

• • • • 

READ: When Cristiano Ronaldo gave O’Shea ‘a migraine’ in his Man Utd audition

• • • • 

2017
Position in Forbes top 100: 1st
Salary: $58million
Endorsements: $35million
Total: $93million

2018
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $61million
Endorsements: $47million
Total: $108million

2019
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $65million
Endorsements: $44million
Total: $109million

2020
Position in Forbes top 100: 2nd
Salary: $60million
Endorsements: $45million
Total: $105million

2021
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $70million
Endorsements: $50million
Total: $120million

2022
Position in Forbes top 100: 3rd
Salary: $60million
Endorsements: $55million
Total: $115million

Total earnings since 2011: $1.0221billion


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