Messi edges out Ronaldo to head Forbes top 100 highest paid athletes

Reports Lionel Messi asks Barcelona to target UCL winner as replacement for unsettled defender

Brazilian PSG star Neymar ($105 million) completed a hat-trick of footballers at the top of Forbes' list, listed at number three despite earning $10 million more in salary/winnings than the Portuguese star.

India cricket captain Virat Kohli has once again become the sole Indian in the Forbes 2019 list of world's highest-paid athletes, ranked 100th in the table.

Messi is now ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus and Portugal star is was second with earnings of Dollars 109 million.

The magazine takes money, salaries and endorsements from athletes between June 2018 and June 2019 to break down its list, which has been published every year since 1990. Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta is next footballer on the list (46th overall), having earned $32.5 million.

Boxer Canelo Alvarez is fourth on the list, thanks to his new deal with DAZN.

Despite earning $9 million more in endorsements than his rival Lionel Messi, Ronaldo's $65 million salary was dwarfed by the Barcelona star's $92 million pay packet.

Mayweather, who only had an exhibition bout on December 31 in Japan, went from being the top earner on the 2018 list, due to his 2017 mega-fight with Conor McGregor, from not being on the list at all.

And Messi was named the highest paid athlete for the first time, moving one position from a year ago thanks to a staggering earnings of $127m (R1.87bn).

The top three of the Forbes list is usually reserved for boxers, golfers, tennis players or the NBA's biggest stars.

Stephen Curry ($US79.8 million) and Kevin Durant ($USS65.4 million) also made the top 10.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba is the highest earning Premier League player in 44th place with $33m (£25.9m).

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