Messi is the highest-paid football player in the world

Lionel Messi, the world's best footballer, is also the world's best paid.

Three times World Player of the Year Lionel Messi is back on top where he belongs – as the world's highest-paid footballer. In 2009 he slipped down two places from the top spot into third, after being toppled by former England captain and LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham.

It’s now been reported that the Argentinean-born Barcelona striker raked in a whopping €33 million (about R331 million) last year from wages and sponsorship deals. The 24-year-old forward, who is in his eight season with the La Liga champions, has already banged in more than 60 goals for his side this season.

And then there’s Becks, who, despite of his "sell by date", is still making more wonga than most of his contemporaries. The 36-year-old football royalty may be plying his trade in one of the less recognised footballing nations, but his wallet shows no signs of thinning. Of course, he makes a lot of money from endorsements and he’s just signed a deal with Samsung to be their global Olympic ambassador.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who became the most expensive player in the world in 2009, is also worth his salt. The Real Madrid striker is currently La Liga’s leading goal scorer ahead of Messi. Other notable high-earners include Cameroon-born striker Samuel Eto’o (earning €23,3 million – about R234 million), who plays in Russia for Anzhi, and Ivorian Yaya Touré (earning €17,6 million – about R176 million), who plays for Manchester City. This makes them the highest-paid African footballers.

Top 10 highest-paid footballers

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona): €33 million (about R331 million)
2. David Beckham (LA Galaxy): €31,5 million (about R316 million)
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): €29,2 million (about R293 million)
4. Samuel Eto'o (Anzhi): €23,3 million (about R234 million)
5. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United): €20,6 million (about R207 million)
6. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City): €18,8 million (about R189 million)
7. Yaya Touré (Manchester City): €17,6 million (about R176 million)
8. Fernando Torres (Chelsea): €16,7 million (about R167 million)
9. Kaká (Real Madrid): €15,5 million (about R155 million)
10. Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich): €15,5 million (R155 million)

SOURCES: www.thesun.co.uk, www.goal.com/en-us