Forbes has released its annual ranking of the top 10 highest-paid athletes in the world and the pint-sized Paris Saint-German superstar Lionel Messi is topping the list.

Lionel Messi is in pole position having amassed $130 million in pre-tax gross over the last 12 months.

The former Barcelona star left heading to Ligue 1 side, PSG as a free agent, signing a two-year contract worth £25 million per year after tax. Moving away from his ‘home’ Messi finds himself topping the list for the second time on Forbes,-the first time being in 2019.

It is reported that Messi’s financial boost stems from his endorsement deals with Adidas, Budweiser, PepsiCo, and Hard Rock Cafe.

Messi’s arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo is third-placed on the list, with the National Basketball Association star Lebron James sandwiched between the two footballers.

Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron  James is on second, earning a staggering $121.2 million a year, followed by Manchester United talisman Cristiano Ronaldo who is pocketing $115 million.

Cristiano Ronaldo had to take a pay cut to force his move from Juventus to his home, Old Trafford. Ronaldo took a £6 million pay cut thereto move back home.

Despite taking the pay cut, the five-time ballon O’dor winner finds himself in the top 3 with his earnings coming from social media.

Talking of social media, Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram with 440 million followers.  Ronaldo’s earnings also come from his endorsements,  with Nike, Herbalife and Clear shampoo.

Flamboyant Brazil star Neymar sits in the fourth position on the list. Flashy Neymar is reported by Forbes to be earning $95 million per year. Neymar’s endorsement deals with Puma and Red Bull are key to his earnings.

Beneath is the full list of top 10 earners ranked by Forbes:

1. Lionel Messi ($130m)

2. LeBron James ($121.2m)

3. Cristiano Ronaldo ($115m)

4. Neymar ($95m)

5. Stephen Curry ($92.8m)

6. Kevin Durant ($92.1m)

7. Roger Federer ($90.7m)

8. Canelo Alvarez ($90m)

9. Tom Brady ($83.9m)

10. Giannis Antetokonmpo ($80.9m)