Money men: Soccer's richest stars
March 20, 2012 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)
France Football magazine has released a list of the highest-earning players in world soccer. Three-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi of Barcelona tops the list, earning $52 million in wages and sponsorship deals.
Lionel Messi $52M
David Beckham $50M
Cristiano Ronaldo $46M
Samuel Eto'o $37M
Wayne Rooney $32.6M
Sergio Aguero $29.7M
Yaya Toure $27.8M
Fernando Torres $26.4M
Philipp Lahm $22.6M
- France Football magazine declares Lionel Messi the world's highest-earning player
- It says Argentina striker earned $52 million in wages and sponsorships in 2011
- Second on the list is former England captain David Beckham after taking home $50 million
- Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo is third on the list after collecting $46 million
(CNN) -- Lionel Messi is widely regarded as the world's best footballer -- and now it seems the Argentina star is also unrivaled among his peers off the field.
David Beckham has long been the sport's biggest earner even in his declining years, due to his lucrative endorsement deals, but the former Manchester United and Real Madrid superstar has been eclipsed by Barcelona's magician.
The three-time World Player of the Year was unveiled by France Football magazine as the highest-earning player in soccer on Tuesday, collecting €33 million ($52 million) in wages and endorsements during 2011.
The 24-year-old, who has scored 51 goals for the Catalan giants in all competitions, headed a list which placed Los Angeles Galaxy's former England captain Beckham in second on $50 million.
Beckham recently signed a new contract with the Galaxy, and unveiled a clothing line with Swedish retailer H & M earlier this year.
Javier Pastore is the most expensive player in French football history after he cost Paris Saint-Germain a fee believed to be $56 million. But Pastore is not the first footballer to have swapped clubs for a hefty price tag.
Football's biggest transfers
Messi's on-field rival Cristiano Ronaldo also featured highly. The Portugal forward's total earnings of $46 million in 2011 put him third ahead of Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon.
Eto'o secured a lucrative move from Inter Milan to big-spending Russian team Anzhi Makhachkala in August 2011 and he has reportedly banked $37 million.
Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney was fifth on the list with $32.6 million, while the Manchester City duo of Argentina's Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast took home $29.7 million and $27.8 million respectively.
Completing the top 10 were Chelsea striker Fernando Torres ($26.4 million), Real playmaker Kaka ($24.5 million) and Bayern Munich's Germany captain Philipp Lahm ($22.6 million).
France Football is one of Europe's leading sports magazines, and it formerly organized the Ballon d'Or awards for the continent's top achievers.
The Ballon d'Or has now merged with ruling body FIFA's world player of the year awards.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.