Lionel Messi is set to become football's next billionaire – with only three athletes achieving the special milestone before him.
Messi's longstanding rival Cristiano Ronaldo took his career earnings to more than $1 billion (R17 billion) after the 2019/20 campaign, Forbes confirmed.
Ronaldo has received $650 million (R11.1 billion) in salaries during his career so far, while the other $350 million (R5.9 billion) came from sponsorship and endorsement deals.
However, Messi will soon follow him and become only the second team athlete to break the $1 billion career earnings mark by the end of the 2020/21 season, Forbes reported after the Argentine confirmed he will be staying at Barcelona after all.
So far, only Ronaldo, Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather have received more than $1 billion in career earnings, with the latter pair competing in individual sports.
Golfer Woods was the first athlete to earn $1 billion back in 2009, while boxer Mayweather achieved the milestone in 2017 following his $275 million (R5.4 billion) fight with Conor McGregor.
Messi will join the billionaires club by the end of 2020/21 thanks for his $92 million (R1.5 billion) earnings with FC Barcelona plus another $33 million (R550 million) from endorsement deals with the likes of adidas, Lays and Mastercard.
Check out the richest billionaire owners of football clubs below: