mesLionel Messi‘s total income for 2014—including his wages at Barcelona and numerous sponsorship deals—stood at a whopping £47.8 million ($71.3 million), making him the world’s highest-paid footballer ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

This is according to a survey by France Football (h/t Neil McLeman of the Mirror), which reports Messi‘s basic salary of £26 million is “almost doubled” when his commercial earnings are factored in. Ronaldo is the second-highest-paid player with £39.7 million ($59.2 million) finding its way into his bank, while Neymar is third with a “measly” £26.8 million ($40 million).

Interestingly, Messi‘s ascension to becoming the most avidly paid footballer was predicted in March 2014 when Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed his latest contract would push him beyond Ronaldo’s earnings, per Kieran Canning of Agence France-Presse.

ronMessi has sponsorship deals with sportswear company Adidas, can be seen on the front of EA Sports’ FIFA 15 and appears alongside other global stars—such as Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant—in adverts for Turkish Airlines.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva is the first non-La Liga entrant on the list, while Manchester United’s Robin van Persie sits just below him in fifth, having made £18.8 million, per McLeman.

Football writer Sam Pilger suggested reputation, not current quality, allowed Van Persie to reach this high:

Gareth Bale’s excellent 2014—which saw him score goals in the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals—marks him sixth (£17.5 million), while Wayne Rooney’s £300,000 weekly salary and commercial deals saw him rack up a million less in seventh.

vanManchester City’s Sergio Aguero is a million further back. His team-mate Yaya Toure and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard round off the top 10 with £14.7 million each.

It will be interesting to see who appears in next year’s list. France Football’s survey suggests experience, quality and marketability are key to making it inside the top 10.

Players such as Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze—who scored the winner in last year’s World Cup final and subsequently landed himself a deal to be the face of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series—could become more prominent in 2015’s rankings.

Potentially going the other way, Bale’s performances continue to be criticised in Spain. Madrid fans have jeered him in recent times and suggested he should be dropped from Carlo Ancelotti’s starting lineup, reported by Carlos Forjanes of AS. Whether this has an impact on his commercial potential, though, remains to be seen.

mouIncidentally, former Los Blancos and current Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho leads the way for coaches, having accumulated £13.2 million last season, per McLeman.

He is a considerable amount ahead of Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger (£8.3 million) and Manchester United’s Louis van Gaal (£7.3 million). DavidMoyes (£5.14 million) also ranks among the highest-earning coaches, despite having his payoff capped when being sacked by the Red Devils.

France Football’s survey provides an insight into the earnings top-level stars can accumulate between their commitments on and off the pitch.Messi‘s terrific form in 2015 will only strengthen his position and could even help Neymar close the gap on Ronaldo.

The Brazilian is destined to become the sport’s highest earner one day, but like his quest for the Ballon d’Or, he may have to wait until Messiand Ronaldo retire to take the spotlight.

Bleacher Report