The Real Madrid star takes over from retired 2013 winner David Beckham at the top of our index, with Samuel Eto’o, Wayne Rooney and Kaka rounding off the top five

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named the world’s richest footballer after topping the annual list of players’ net worth compiled by Goal.

The Real Madrid superstar held off Barcelona rival Lionel Messi in the Goal Rich List 2014 with an estimated wealth of €148 million.

The Goal Rich List is collated by a team of analysts and takes into account all streams of revenue for active footballers over the course of their careers.

Ronaldo succeeds David Beckham, who led the way on the 2013 list but called time on his playing career last May.

Only current professionals are eligible with the earnings of more than 200 contenders assessed before Goal’s experts finalised the top 10.

Ronaldo has enjoyed a remarkable 12 months in which his value to club and country has never been more evident.

He scored all four goals as Portugal beat Sweden in the World Cup play-offs, landed the 2013 Ballon d’Or and signed a record-breaking new five-year deal with Madrid.

Messi came in second after inspiring Barcelona to the Spanish title and signing up for a range of lucrative endorsements. It was a mixed year for the Argentinian, however, who appeared in a Spanish court in September to testify over alleged tax fraud relating to commercial contracts and lost his grip on the Ballon d’Or after a year blighted by injuries.

Wayne Rooney makes the top four on the list following Manchester United’s decision to offer him the biggest contract in British football history, worth €365,000 a week.

Neymar’s controversial transfer to Barcelona sees him rocket up the standings to sixth, with his parents’ €40m ‘compensation’ payment included Goal’s figures due to its game-changing significance.

The rest of the list is made up of global superstars, who have accrued huge wealth over significant spells at the top of the professional game.

Samuel Eto’o is at number three, ahead of Rooney, thanks largely to the millions he earned at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, with Kaka, Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gianluigi Buffon and Thierry Henry completing the top 10.

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10. Thierry Henry – €57m (£47m)


Thierry Henry’s glittering career has seen him collect winner’s medals for the World Cup, the Champions League, the Premier League and La Liga.But the French forward, 36, has not only been successful on the pitch, cashing in at the height of his fame with lucrative endorsements for global brands such as Nike, Renault and Gillette.Henry moved from Arsenal to Barcelona in 2007 for €20 million (£16m), signing a four-year deal with the Catalan club worth €5.6m (£4.6m) a season.France’s all-time leading scorer then eclipsed David Beckham as the highest paid player in the MLS when he joined New York Red Bulls in 2010.Although his base salary in 2013 dropped to €2.7m (£2.2m), with bonuses Henry is still estimated to earn €3.2m (£2.6m) per year playing for New York.Off the field, his wealth continues to grow as the public face of PUMA and he was central to the launch of the sportswear company’s new evoPOWER boot in 2014.Henry also promotes Red Bull and has a string of business and stock market investments. His properties include a €6.8m (£5.6m) home in Hampstead, London, and a luxury apartment in New York that cost €11.1m (£9.2m) in 2010.

9. Gianluigi Buffon – €63m (£52m)


Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon may not have experienced a particularly notable upturn in his sporting performances in 2013, but the same cannot be said of his bank balance.

While he continued to turn in the kind of performances for Juventus that have become his trademark since the Bianconeri paid Parma over €50 million (£35m) for his services in 2001, last year was a remarkable year for him in an economic sense.

Buffon, who already had some business interests off the pitch, added a key investment to his portfolio in purchasing 54% of manufacturing company Zucchi, increasing his previous 2% share. The Juve keeper reaped immediate dividends, with the company’s capital increase in December seeing share prices rise by 107%.

There was heightened publicity for Zucchi off the back of the 36-year-old’s cash injection and, on paper, the 139-cap shot-stopper became €19.5m (£16m) richer in the space of just two months.

Buffon continues to earn €4.5m (£3.7m) a year as skipper of the Turin club and will be looking to add further weight to his stock – both on and off the field – by leading Italy to glory at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

His Juventus contract runs out in 2015, at which point the club are expected to offer him a decreased wage, but his business acumen and ongoing sponsorship deals – notably with PUMA – mean he is likely to remain among football’s wealthiest players for some time to come.

8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – €69m (£57m)


He has trademarked his forename, purchased an island boasting 500 hectares of hunting ground and become the first footballer to release his autobiography through a state-of-the-art app. Even away from the football field, Zlatan Ibrahimovic walks his own kind of walk.

While the sport saw many of its previous transfer records broken in 2013, the Swede remains the most expensive footballer in history thanks to a series of big-money transfer deals totalling over €169 million (£139m). And with signing-on fees flying in, Ibrahimovic has done as well financially out of those moves as he has in a sporting sense.

Although he will miss out on this summer’s World Cup after Sweden’s play-off defeat to Portugal, he remains one of football’s most marketable commodities thanks to his continued goalscoring exploits. Add in his €15m (£12.4m) annual salary at Paris Saint-Germain and there are plenty of money-making avenues still open to the 32-year-old.

As well as his home in the French capital, he also owns properties in Milan, New York, Stockholm, Malmo and the Swedish ski resort of Are, and his sponsorship deal with Nike earns him a seven-figure yearly sum. Meanwhile, he has recently been unveiled as the face of Xbox One in France and the Swedish Postal Service has initiated the release of a series of stamps bearing Ibrahimovic’s image.

Intent on putting something back into his local community, Ibrahimovic funded a football complex in the area of Malmo in which he grew up, Rosengard. He has also donated Nike kits to the youth club he played with before becoming a professional, FBK Balkan.

The Neymar family – €80m (£66m)


It is a myth to suggest that just because Neymar was playing his club football in Brazil before last summer he was not already one of the game’s highest earners.A string of sponsorships including Nike, Panasonic, Heliar, VW, Claro, Santander, Guarana Antarctica, Ambev, Red Bull and Unilever lifted his income as a Santos player to €20m (£16.4m) a year.Then came that Barcelona move for €86.2m (£71m) in June 2013. One of the most controversial transfers in history ensured Neymar became one of the world’s wealthiest players.The precise details were announced on Barcelona’s website after the club was subjected to a tax fraud investigation. Neymar, 22, was paid a €10m (£8.2m) signing-on fee and also handed a five-year contract for an annual salary of €8.8m (£7.2m).On top of that, the club revealed that Neymar’s mother and father, Neymar Snr and Nadine, were paid €40m as “compensation” related to a previous agreement with their company, N&N.No other parents’ earnings are factored into the Rich List simply because they are not significant enough. Neymar is close to his parents and, given that this extraordinary sum of family income is derived directly from his football career, this figure has been included.Neymar’s global image rights are hugely valuable and were excluded from the Barcelona agreement. In May 2013, he announced a deal with the investment fund, Doyen Global, run by David Beckham’s advisor Simon Oliveira, to exploit these rights outside Brazil.

Neymar owns a string of properties in Sao Paulo and a yacht worth €5m (£4.1m).

5. Kaka – €82m (£67.5m)


It was something of a topsy-turvy 2013 for Brazilian star Kaka. The end of his four-year stint with Real Madrid amidst a string of injuries and loss of form was offset by a mini-rebirth at AC Milan, the club he had left for Spain in 2009.

In departing the Santiago Bernabeu for a fresh start, Kaka sacrificed the final two years of his massive contract worth an annual €9 million (£7.4m) plus bonuses.

He exchanged that for a €4m (£3.3m) a year deal with the Rossoneri and even docked his own wages after picking up an injury in his return match at Torino, saying he did not wish to be paid again until he was fully fit.

Now back in action and with his form having improved despite Milan’s slump this term, the 31-year-old continues to court interest from sponsors the world over.

Through commercial deals with Adidas, EA Sports and Sony he remains a huge marketing force, while his seven-year modelling association with Armani reflects his clean-cut, boy-next-door image.

Owning several luxury apartments in Manhattan, New York and additional properties in Natal, Madrid and Milan, Kaka has joined a growing list of footballers who see the housing market as a wise investment base. And while he may have suffered a drop in wages thanks to his return to Italy, his profile and overall wealth continue to grow.

4. Wayne Rooney – €84m (£69m)


Wayne Rooney is catapulted up the Goal Rich List after signing the biggest contract deal in the history of British football, worth around €365,000 (£300,000) a week for the next five years at Manchester United.It is set to net the England striker close to €95m (£78m) over the course of the contract until the age of 33.That represents a significant improvement on his last deal, signed in 2010 and worth around €300,000 (£250,000) per week.It signifies a huge turnaround in the relationship between United and Rooney, who looked destined to part ways last summer following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.Despite Rooney’s lucrative on-field deals, he has been unable to cash to the extent of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi with commercial interests. Coca-Cola dropped him after allegations about his private life surfaced, while he is no longer the cover star of EA Sports’ Fifa range of video games.He has this year fronted campaigns for Nike and Samsung, which bring in around €4m (£3.2m) annually.The 28-year-old also signed a five-year book deal with Harper Collins in 2006 – estimated at the time to be worth €6m (£5m) in advances.

3. Samuel Eto’o – €85m (£70m)


The great Anzhi Makhachkala dream may have died with the news in August that billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov was to refocus the club’s efforts on a more reserved, locally-based project. But Samuel Eto’o’s two years with the Russian outfit were enough to make him one of the richest sportsmen outside of North America.

In 2011, the Cameroon striker was the marquee signing of the Kerimov era, collecting a world-record salary for a footballer of €20 million (£16.5m) a year, including bonuses, to add to what was already a healthy fortune thanks to spells with Barcelona and Inter.

Indeed, Eto’o had hit the headlines in 2009 when he bought each of his national team-mates a €33,000 (£29,000) watch with a personal inscription after they qualified for the World Cup.

The short but highly lucractive spell with Anzhi – which included the practice of flying to Russia from Paris for training and then on to Dagestan for home games – has firmly established him at the top end of the Goal Rich List.

After the Russian Premier League side said they would only offer wages of €7m a year beyond 2014, he was allowed to join Chelsea, agreeing a one-year contract worth around €5m (£4.1m). It has still been a stunning year, however, when earnings from the first six months of 2013 are taken into account.

Eto’o retains a €5m a year sponsorship package with PUMA, as well as deals with Ford and fashion label John Richmond.

Among his investments, the 32-year-old boasts a collection of stunning cars worth a total of around €5m, including a Bugatti Veyron, two Aston Martins and a Maybach Xenatec.

2. Lionel Messi – €146m (£120.5m)


Lionel Messi has relinquished his Ballon d’Or crown to Cristiano Ronaldo and he has also slipped behind his great rival in the earning stakes.Ronaldo’s bumper new Real Madrid contract overshadowed Messi’s deal with Barcelona, which was signed in December 2012 at a cost of around €15 million (£12.3m) per year until 2018.The Argentine had been in talks over a new pay packet with Sandro Rosell before the president’s resignation and a deal which will reportedly give Messi parity with Ronaldo is due to be signed this year.Messi, 26, enjoys a long-standing commercial relationship with adidas, worth at least €2m (£1.6m) per year, for whom he became only the second athlete after David Beckham to be given his own signature range of sportswear and apparel.Along with NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, Messi endorses Turkish Airlines while he also fronts the Fifa range of video games by EA Sports, Samsung’s Galaxy 11 and a new campaign for Gatorade.The demand for brand Messi is such that he recently signed up to be the face of Gillette’s “Inner Steel” campaign, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods, Thierry Henry and Roger Federer.Among his string of properties are several in his native Rosario, Argentina, including a compound for his family, as well as a luxury mansion in Barcelona. He drives a Ferrari F430 Spider and also owns an Audi R8.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – €148m (£122m)

Cristiano Ronaldo is the Ballon d’Or holder and signed a new contract in September 2013, tying him to Real Madrid until 2018 at a dazzling cost of €105 million (£86.5m).The Portuguese is being paid a salary of €17m (£14.3m) per year and also retains a large percentage of his lucrative image rights as part of the new agreement.Ronaldo led Portugal to the World Cup finals with a stunning hat-trick in the playoffs against Sweden and Nike are in the process of negotiating an improved contract with him ahead of the tournament in Brazil. His €6m (£5m) per year deal, signed in 2010 with the American sportswear giant, is due to expire this year.The 29-year-old also enjoys lucrative sponsorship arrangements with Armani, Castrol Edge, Jacob & Co, Herbalife, Banco Espirito Santo and KFC.In 2013, Ronaldo launched his own CR7 underwear label while he still maintains a CR7 boutique on his home island of Madeira – where last year he also opened his own museum.He owns properties in Madrid, Lisbon and Madeira, while he is a well-known aficionado of high-powered sports-cars. Among his collection are a Lamborghini Aventador and a Bugatti Veyron.GOAL.COM

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