Lionel Messi was denied a potentially money-spinning transfer from Barcelona to one of the premier league giants this month after a contract-dispute but the superstar remains the world’s richest football player.

According to a ranking compiled by Forbes, Messi’s total earnings this year are $126 million – $92 million from his salary and $34 million in endorsements.

It is not surprising that Cristiano Ronaldo comes in second although earnings of $117 million will soften the blow for the Juventus forward, as will his status of the most followed football player of the world on social media.

Neymar comes in third on the Forbes list ($96 million) along with the Paris St Germain teammate, 21-year-old Kylian Mbappe, up in fourth spot ($42 million).

The English Premier League has established the status of the world’s richest domestic soccer league however only two of its stars feature in the top 10 of the wealth table,  the Premier League champion Liverpool’s magician Mohamed Salah in fifth spot ($37 million) and Manchester United’s midfielder Paul Pogba ($34 million) in sixth. Manchester United shot-stopper David de Gea ($27 million) is 10th.

Barcelona’s star Antoine Griezmann was ranked at the seventh spot and Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale eighth. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski is the sole Bundesliga player, in ninth.

Messi reluctantly agreed to continue his stay at Barcelona for one more season this month, despite saying that he wanted out in the wake of an 8-2 Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich.

He argued that a clause in his contract stating that a 700 million euros release fee need to be met for him to change the ship was no longer active and that he could leave on a free transfer — a situation that might have allowed him to command astronomical wages from the likes of Manchester City.

Messi, 33, is in the final year of his contract so could leave as a free agent next summer. By staying with the Catalan club, Messi is in line for an $83 million loyalty bonus so it’s likely he will occupy the top of the money charts in the future.

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