How Did Cristiano Ronaldo Overtake Lionel Messi To Become the Highest Paid Soccer Player in 2021?

Published 09/22/2021, 2:28 AM EDT


Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably one of the most marketable athletes on this planet. Back in 2018, just the announcement of his move from Real Madrid to Juventus skyrocketed Juve’s stock prices by 20 percent in a single day. Courtesy of his immeasurable fan following, the Turin-based club gained 1.5 million followers on Instagram, moments after the big news rocked the sporting world.

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More recently, the 36-year-old’s move from Juventus to the theater of dreams had a similar impact. CR7 broke Manchester United’s shirt sales record in a matter of 12 hours.

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For an athlete as influential and popular as Ronaldo, brands would pay anything to get him as their ambassador. Notably, that is exactly how Ronaldo has overtaken his legendary compatriots to become the highest-paid footballer this year.

Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester United v Newcastle United – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – September 11, 2021 Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Phil Noble EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Cristiano Ronaldo earns $55 million from brand endorsements alone

Cristiano Ronaldo‘s social media presence is unrealistic. The former Real Madrid winger has more than a combined half-billion followers across social media platforms. He has 149 million followers on Facebook, 344 million on Instagram, and 94.3 million on Twitter. This, combined with his on-field dominance, has helped him top the charts on both the scoreboard and endorsement billboards.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – JANUARY 12: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Real Madrid receives the 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the player of the year during the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2014 at the Kongresshaus on January 12, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

According to Forbes, CR7 earns $55million from personal brand endorsements and partnerships. His business ties include Nike, Herbalife, Clear, and his CR7 branded portfolio of clothes, hotels, and gyms. Only three other active athletes make more commercially. They are – Roger Federer ($90 million), LeBron James ($65 million), and Tiger Woods ($60 million).

Unreal figures

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During the 2021-22 season, Ronaldo is expected to earn $125 million before taxes, with salary and bonuses accounting for $70 million of that total. Add another $55 million from endorsements, and the Portuguese international surpasses Lionel Messi.

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Despite earning a higher salary than Ronaldo, both Messi and Neymar rank behind in numbers, speaking business-wise. They both earn a gross salary of $75million but have brand endorsements worth $35 million [Messi] and $20 million [Neymar], only.

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Suresh Menon

127 articles

Suresh Menon is a Football and NFL writer at Essentially Sports. He is currently pursuing BMM from St Xaviers College with his specialization in Advertising. Juventus is his favorite football club and he one day plans to go to Italy and watch a Juve match live.

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