Lionel Messi has replaced David Beckham as the best-paid player in world football, according to France Football magazine’s annual “rich list”.
Beckham has topped the list for the last two years, but World Player of the Year Messi is now the highest earner.
The Barcelona star has estimated annual earnings of €33 million ($44.1m) with Beckham left trailing on €30.4 million ($40.64m).
Beckham suffered World Cup heartbreak when rupturing his Achilles tendon while on loan at AC Milan from Los Angeles Galaxy, dashing his hopes of appearing in the finals for the fourth time with England.
He has suffered a slight drop in income compared to 2009, partly due to the falling value of the dollar, but Beckham has been in the top two of the list for the past nine years to show his enduring appeal.
Messi, in outstanding form for reigning Spanish and European champions with successive La Liga hat-tricks, boosted his earnings through bonuses as Barcelona did the treble last year under Pep Guardiola.
According to France Football, Messi’s annual wage is made up of a €10 million ($13.36m) basic salary, €4 million ($5.36m) in bonuses and €19 million ($25.4m) from endorsements and sponsorships, which include Adidas, Pepsi Cola and Gillette.
Messi’s predecessor as World Player of the Year, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo is a close third in the list on €30 million ($40.08m) but there is a big gap to the fourth-placed player, Ronaldo’s teammate Kaka on €18.8 million ($25.11m).
Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho, Carlos Tevez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Frank Lampard and Samuel Eto’o make up the rest of the top 10.