Cristiano Ronaldo was the world's highest paid athlete over the past two years, but he has now dropped to third spot in Forbes' latest rich list, with his longstanding rival Lionel Messi overtaking him as the best-earning footballer.
Click through the mini-gallery above to see the three highest paid footballers in 2018, according to Forbes.
The Portuguese topped the ranking in 2016 and 2017, but Messi, along with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr, surpassed him in 2018.
Messi's annual salary, including bonus payments, is said to be $84 million (R1.07 billion) following his latest contract extension, while he also earned an extra $27 million (R343 million) from endorsement deals with the likes of adidas, Gatorade, Pepsi and Huawei to take his overall income to $111 million (R1.41 billion).
Ronaldo ranks among the three top-earning athletes for a sixth straight year after receiving $108 million (R1.37 billion) over the past year. His income is based on a $61 million (R774 million) salary and another $47 million (R596 million) from sponsorship and endorsement deals with the likes of Herbalife, EA Sports and American Tourister, as well as his own "CR7" branded products and hotels.
Neymar is the third football star in the ranking, and sits in fifth place overall on Forbes rich list, one spot behind mixed martial artist Conor McGregor. The Brazilian pocketed $71 million (R901 million) in salary and bonus payments, plus another $19 million (R241 million) from sponsorship and endorsement deals to take his overall income to $90 million (R1.14 billion).
Note: Forbes' earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between 1 June 2017 and 1 June 2018. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12-month period based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. All amounts are before taxes and agent fees.
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