Cristiano Ronaldo leads list of top earners in sports

Ronaldo completes lucrative move to Saudi Arabia with $214M annual deal which is landmark moment for economics of football.

Publication: 12.01.2023 - 17:37
Cristiano Ronaldo leads list of top earners in sports
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As the new year brought fresh opportunities for teams to strengthen their squads, a record-breaking deal put Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of sports’ highest-paid stars.

Here are the highest-paid athletes:

Cristiano Ronaldo fixed the contract price with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr for the next 2.5 years at $214 million on Tuesday.

The 37-year-old Portuguese football icon became the highest-paid earner in the sports world after moving to the 18-time Saudi champions.

"This contract is unique because I'm a unique player as well," Ronaldo said during the signing ceremony. "This is not the end for me. The Saudi Arabian League is very competitive. I know people don't know that," he added.

In November, Ronaldo became a free agent after his contract with England's Manchester United was terminated by mutual agreement over his disputes with club manager Erik Ten Hag.

Ronaldo is a five-time UEFA Champions League winner, including four with Spain's Real Madrid and one with Manchester United.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner led Portugal to the UEFA EURO 2016 title.

Lionel Messi - $168.5 million

Lionel Messi is one of the most famous athletes in the world, and his earnings on the football pitch reflect that.

The 35-year-old Argentinian said goodbye to Barcelona following the 2020-21 campaign after spending his entire career with the Spanish club.

But he failed to lead France's Paris Saint-Germain to the UEFA Champions League title after signing an excellent deal.

Prior to his move to the French club, Messi had an estimated net worth of $675 million, which means he earns up to $168.5 million per season.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner bagged four UEFA Champions League titles, three FIFA Club World Cups, three UEFA Super trophies, and 10 Spanish La Liga titles throughout his remarkable career.

Messi added the final piece to his trophy collection by winning the 2022 World Cup title in Qatar.

Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns - $56 million

In 2022, the Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker signed a record-setting four-year $224 million supermax extension deal that keeps him until the 2028 season.

Not only was that the most for an NBA player but the most for any professional basketballer at the time.

Three-time NBA All-Star led the Suns to the 2021 NBA Finals.

Booker, 26, also clinched a gold medal on the US Olympic team in Tokyo 2020.

In the same year as Booker's extension contract, Karl-Anthony Towns signed a four-year $224 million supermax extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 27-year-old Dominican-American received three All-Star selections (2018, 2019, 2022) and went on to be named NBA Rookie of the Year for 2015-16.

Stephen Curry - $53.8 million

NBA superstar Stephen Curry's huge contract extension with the Golden State Warriors last year netted him an average salary just shy of $54 million after making a $215 million extension.

Since starting in the league in 2009, Curry has been with the squad when the Warriors won four-time NBA championships and has also been an eight-time NBA All-Star.

The 34-year-old playmaker has been named the NBA Most Valuable Player twice, won four NBA championships and received an NBA All-Star Game MVP Award.

10 most expensive transfers in sports history, ranked on yearly basis



Contract duration

Contract value (Million dollars)

Annual earnings (Million dollars)

1Cristiano RonaldoAl NassrFootball2.5 year (2023-2025)535214
2Lionel MessiBarcelonaFootball4 year (2017-2021)674168.5
3Devin BookerPhoenix SunsBasketball4 year (2024-2028)22456
4Karl-Anthony TownsMinnesota TimberwolvesBasketball4 year (2024-2028)22456
5Stephen CurryGolden State WarriorsBasketball4 year (2022-2026)21553.8
6Max VerstappenRed Bull RacingMotorsports5 year (2024-2028)26653.3
7Nikola JokicDenver NuggetsBasketball5 year (2023-2028)26452.8
8Joel EmbiidPhiladelphia 76ersBasketball4 year (2023-2027)21052.5
9Kimi RaikkonenFerrariMotorsports3 year (2007-2009)15351
10Bradley BealWashington WizardsBasketball5 year (2022-2027)25150.2

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