Cristiano Ronaldo beats Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe to top Forbes' 2023 rich list

Ronaldo grabs opponent by neck, avoids red card (0:32)

Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't sent-off, despite an apparent grab of an opponents neck. (0:32)

Cristiano Ronaldo became the world's highest-paid athlete after his move to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr nearly doubled his annual playing salary while Paris Saint-Germain duo Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe round off the top three, according to Forbes.

Ronaldo, who joined the Saudi club on a deal until 2025 after leaving Manchester United last year, earned $136 million with Forbes saying his annual playing salary went up to an estimated $75m.

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Ronaldo's contract has been estimated by media to be worth more than €200m ($219.98m).

PSG forward Messi, 35, was next on the list after bringing home a combined $130m while club teammate and France captain Mbappe -- the youngest on the list at 24 -- earned $120m to sit third.

Los Angeles Lakers great LeBron James ($119.5m) and Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez ($110m) rounded out the top five.

Last year also saw the advent of LIV Golf, the breakaway tour that has lured some of the U.S.-based PGA Tour's top players with huge sums of money, and two of its golfers make the top 10.

Former world No.1 Dustin Johnson (sixth with $107m) made the biggest gain after making the controversial switch to LIV Golf having not even made the cut for the top 50 in 2022 while he was joined by fellow LIV golfer Phil Mickelson (seventh with $106m).

Four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry ($100.4m) and Phoenix Suns' Kevin Durant ($89.1m) are the other two basketball players on the list.

Former tennis ace Roger Federer ($95.1m) is the only retired player in the top 10.

Forbes said its on-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned in the last 12 months while off-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees, licensing income and cash returns from businesses they operate.

Forbes' Top 10 money list in 2023

1. Cristiano Ronaldo ($136M)
2. Lionel Messi ($130m)
3. Kylian Mbappe ($120m)
4. Lebron James ($119.5m)
5. Canelo Alvarez ($110m)
6. Dustin Johnson ($107m)
7. Phil Mickelson ($106m)
8. Stephan Curry ($100.4m)
9. Roger Federer ($95.1m)
10. Kevin Durant ($89.1m)