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Ronaldo Beat Messi To Billionaire Title, But...

Cristiano Ronaldo has beaten his longstanding rival Lionel Messi to become football's first-ever billionaire in career earnings, but the Argentine is hot on his trail and could earn his first billion quicker.

Click through the gallery above to see the richest footballers in history, according to various sources.

The Juventus superstar has taken his total career earnings from salary, win bonuses and endorsement deals to more than $1 billion (R17 billion) this year, Forbes stated.

The bigger portion of the overall figure comes from his wages, which are said to total $650 million (R11.1 billion) over 17 years since he made his senior debut, while the rest is made up of income from endorsement deals.

As a consequence, he became football's first-ever player to earn more than $1 billion, and only the third athlete to achieve this milestone while still active, with Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather being the other two.

Messi, though, is hot on his trail and could become football's second billionaire next year after wrapping up career earnings of $605 million (R10.2 billion) from salary and win bonuses so far.

It means, Messi could earn his first $1 billion within 16 years of his career, while Ronaldo needed 17.

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Forbes did not state how much Messi has earned overall, including income from endorsement deals, but pointed out that the FC Barcelona captain, who is three years younger than Ronaldo, "is poised to surpass the $1 billion in all-time earnings as soon as next year".

The only team athletes to come close to earning a $1 billion during their active careers are David Beckham, who ended his career with total earnings of $500 million (R8.5 billion), and former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who retired in 2016 after 22 years in Major League Baseball having earned $450 million (R7.6 billion).

Ronaldo and Messi have been among the three highest-paid athletes in the world for the past five years, and have been among the five top earners worldwide every year since 2014.

Year

Ronaldo

Messi

2014

$80 million (2)*

$64.7 million (4)

2015

$79.6 million (3)

$73.8 million (4)

2016

$88 million (1)

$81.4 million (2)

2017

$93 million (1)

$80 million (3)

2018

$108 million (3)

$111 million (2)

2019

$109 million (2)

$127 million (1)

2020

$105 million (2)

$104 million (3)

* Ranking on Forbes Rich List in brackets

Read: 14 Highest-Paid Footballers On Forbes Rich List

This year's ranking saw Ronaldo in second place behind Roger Federer, while Messi followed in third position after both of the footballers' incomes decreased due to salary cuts because of the coronavirus crisis.

Do you think Messi will retire with more earnings from his playing career than Ronaldo? Have your say in the comments section below.

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