Cover Lionel Messi is the world's top-paid athlete (Photo: Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Who among the world’s most renowned athletes receive the highest pay?

The world has seen the finest athletes whose talents in their respective fields remain unmatched. It is no secret that in sports, the best and the biggest players also get the biggest banks—through their careers they have accumulated wealth from the ticket sales of highly-anticipated matches, merchandise, and whatnot.  

If you have ever wondered who among the world's top players get the biggest cash, then look no further. Below is a ranking based on the data provided by JustWatch, an international streaming guide. 

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1. Lionel Messi

Football icon Lionel Messi takes the number one spot with US$75 million annual salary. For many fans, Messi is an athlete whose legacy under Barcelona cannot be forgotten, the sports star has been in the with FC Barcelona for 21 years until August 2021.

In a press conference, a tearful Messi announced that he was leaving the Spanish league after the former said it could no longer afford to pay his high wages. 

Messi said that he is prepared to shoulder 50 per cent of the wage in order to stay and sign a new contract, but was unable to finalise the deal due to the club's huge debts. “We had everything agreed, but at the last minute, it couldn’t happen; this year, I wanted to stay and I couldn’t,” the player said.

Read more: 5 Of Lionel Messi’s Defining Moments With FC Barcelona: Awards, Sentimental Wins, And More

2. Neymar

Second on the list is Brazilian football player Neymar who also takes home US$ 75 million annually. With the guidance of his father, the athlete began playing football as a boy in São Vicente. At the tender age of 14, he has a successful trial with Spain's Real Madrid. 

His first team debut happened with Santos in 2009; he averaged a goal every other match and backed the team up with his confidence, excellent body control, and speed in the field. In 2013, Neymar signed a five-year contract with FC Barcelona after a trade with Santos in exchange for US$ 76 million. This is now known as one of the most expensive transfers in history. 

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ranking third is Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo who gets an annual salary of US$ 70 million. In the span of his football career, Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged five Ballon d’Or awards, four FIFA Club World Cups, and has also won UEFA Champions Leagues. The Portuguese player's determination in the arena has made him one of the world's best players.

See also: 5 Of Cristiano Ronaldo's Career Highlights

4. Lewis Hamilton

British racecar driver Lewis Hamilton has an average of US$ 62 million yearly salary. He is considered to be one of the most successful Formula One (F1) Grand Prix racing drivers of all time. As of this post, he owns the F1 record for career race victories and is even tied with Michael Schumacher for the most driver's championships. 

Related: F1 Racing Basics: 9 Facts That May Surprise You About The Sport


 
 
 

5. Stephen Curry

Ranking fifth is American basketball player Stephen Curry with a yearly salary of US$ 46 million. The sports star immediately made an impact with the Warriors, becoming the team's starting point guard with an average of 17.5 points per game in his first season.

In 2015, Curry made a then-record of 286 three-pointers all while leading the Warriors to an NBA-best 67 to 15 record. Because of this, he was named the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP).

6. Max Verstappen

With an annual salary of US$ 42 million, auto racing champion Max Verstappen takes the sixth spot. As of this writing, he competes under the Dutch flag in Formula One with Red Bull Racing. At the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he has achieved 20 victories and 13 pole positions. He also scored the first Grand Slam of his career.

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7. Giannis Antetokounmpo

The seventh spot belongs to Giannis Antetokounmpo who accumulates an estimated US$ 39 million per year. Born and raised in Athens to Nigerian immigrants, Antetokounmpo started playing basketball for the youth teams of Filathlitikos. In 2016, the basketball star successfully led the Bucks in five major categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish one regular season in the top 20 in all five statistics of total points, assists, steals, blocks, and rebounds. 

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8. Rudy Gobert

On the eighth spot is French basketball star Rudy Gobert who has an annual average of US$ 35 million. With his 7ft and 1 inch (2.16 metres) height, a wingspan of 7 ft 9 inches (2.36 metres) long, Gobert plays centre position and is considered as one of NBA's best rim protectors. 

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9. Ben Simmons

Australian basketball player Ben Simmons takes home a whopping US$ 33 million every year, this is why the player lands this list's ninth spot. The athlete left school to enter the NBA draft. As fate would have it, they ended up becoming the third Melbourne-born number one overall pick in 11 years following sports stars Andrew Bogut and Kyrie Irving. 

10. Pascal Siakam

Cameroonian professional basketball player for Toronto Raptors Pascal Siakam placed 10th with US$ 33 million. After being assigned to the NBA Development League (G League) in 2017, he immediately set a premise with a league championship and picked up Finals Most Valuable Player honours in the process.

The player would later help the Raptors get an NBA championship in 2019, making him earn the Most Improved Player Award.

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