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According to a report, Messi and Ronaldo will be among the highest-paid soccer players in the world in 2023

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are among the world's highest-paid soccer players in 2023, according to a Forbes report released Friday. The three have a combined estimated income of half a billion dollars as they've made major moves in the past year.

Messi Mania made a splash on South Beach this summer when the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner joined Inter Miami with a historic MLS deal. The news came after much speculation that the former Paris Saint-Germain star would join the Saudi Pro League or return to FC Barcelona.

Ronaldo and Neymar's spots on the list are partially thanks to paychecks from the Saudi Pro League, a branch of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund that also fuels LIV Golf. Ronaldo left Manchester United to break ground with the rising league and Neymar is one of the newer signees after departing from Paris Saint-Germain, where he was teammates with Messi for two seasons.

Here are the Top 5 richest soccer players of 2023, according to Forbes:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo - 0 million

VIDEO: Cristiano Ronaldo Tops The List Of World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Players 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-paid soccer player in the world with an estimated $260 million income in 2023. He returns to the top spot after being dethroned by Kylian Mbappé last year and had a four-year run from 2014-2017.

In December, Ronaldo, 38, signed a 2 ½-year contract with Saudi Pro League team Al Nassr worth an estimated $200 million per year. The deal came after a fallout with English Premier League club Manchester United. Besides performing on the pitch, the Portuguese star has also appeared in promotional campaigns for the kingdom, including hyping up the boxing match between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou in Riyadh, the country's capital.

The additional $60 million comes from off-field sponsorships. Ronaldo boasts 608 million Instagram followers and an immense celebrity profile that he leverages to promote brands like Nike, Clear and Herbalife.

2. Lionel Messi - 5 million

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Lionel Messi is second on the list with an income of $135 million. The 2022 World Cup winner last held the top spot in 2020 when he was the highest-paid soccer player for three years in a row.

Of his 2023 income, $65 million comes from his Inter Miami CF contract with an estimated $70 million coming from off-field deals.

When Messi, 36, inked a deal with David Beckham's MLS team, he reportedly got stake in adidas and Apple TV along with his paycheck.

The Argentinian star's presence in the United States has boosted ticket sales and social media followings for the team and the league as a whole.

His 489 million Instagram followers and family friendly image make him a prized marketing voice.

Oct 7, 2023; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA; Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) acknowledges fans after the game against FC Cincinnati at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

3. Neymar Jr. - 2 million

VIDEO: Highest Paid Football Players in the World 2023
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Neymar is third on the list with an estimated 2023 income of $112 million.

The Brazilian star, 31, followed the trend Ronaldo started and joined Saudi Pro Club team Al Hilal this summer in a deal that's worth a reported $100 million per year. He left French club Paris Saint-Germain where he played with Messi for two seasons.

Neymar reportedly makes $32 million of his income off the pitch. His involvement in fashion and pop culture have given him an Instagram following of 215 million and sponsorship deals with Puma, Konami and Red Bull.

4. Kylian Mbappé - 0 million

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After leading all soccer players last year with a reported $128 million, Kylian Mbappé slides down the 2023 list to fourth place with an income of $110 million.

The French phenom has stayed with Paris Saint-Germain and is making $90 million on the field. Reports have floated around that Saudi Pro League team Al Hilal offered him a deal worth $1 billion, which included the transfer fee, but he remains on the Ligue 1 side for now. Real Madrid has also been in talks on and off to sign the 2018 World Cup winner.

The 24-year-old is the second-youngest player on the list (No. 6 Erling Haaland is a year younger) and boasts 109 million Instagram followers and a smart fashion sensibility.

France forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal against Argentina on a penalty kick for his third goal of the match during extra time of the 2022 World Cup final.

5. Karim Benzema - 6 million

VIDEO: 10 Highest Paid Footballers In The World (2023)
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Karim Benzema is fifth on the list with a reported income of $106 million.

The defending Ballon d'Or winner also plays in the Saudi Pro League for Al Ittihad. He joined the club in June after spending 14 years with Real Madrid and Forbes said he's making $100 million for his on-field play.

Benzema, 35, perhaps isn't as marketable as others on the list as he missed the 2018 World Cup due to a scandal and the 2022 tournament with an injury. But he still has deals with adidas and Fendi and an Instagram following of 75.5 million.

Read the entire list of the highest-paid soccer players of 2023 at Forbes.


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