Tactical Insights

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s first contracts REVEALED, with the former Man United and Barcelona stars now raking in more than £100MILLION-per-year


  • Ronaldo came through Sporting Lisbon academy before moving to Man United 
  • Messi was snapped up by Barcelona as a youngster before starring for the club  
  • CHRIS SUTTON on sledging, expletive stand-offs and on-field verbal jousting – It’s All Kicking Off podcast 



Lionel Messi‘s first Barcelona contract and Cristiano Ronaldo‘s maiden professional deal at Sporting Lisbon have been revealed. 

The superstars were the main protagonists of world football for almost two decades, winning 13 Ballon d’Ors between them, as well as nine Champions League titles. 

Messi and Ronaldo rank one and two in LaLiga‘s all-time top scorers list, the European Cup all-time top scorers list and a host of other statistics. 

Their unmatched on-field success has seen them rake in millions in wages over the years and, despite now playing outside of Europe, the two are still among the highest earners in the game. 

According to Forbes, Ronaldo’s three-year deal with Al-Nassr is worth around £175million, while Messi is pocketing a wage in the region of £43m per year, according to Marca

Superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s first professional contracts have been revealed
Messi established himself in a Barcelona team that included Ballon d’Or winner Ronalidnho
Lionel Messi is now the highest paid player in MLS, earning a reported £43m-per-year
Ronaldo was lured to Saudi Arabia in 2022 by a huge wage reported to be around £175m over three years

Those sums however, are a far cry from their early days in the game, before either of the would-be stars could command eye-watering sums. 

The Inter Miami star took home just £516-per-month as a youth player at Barcelona, according to El Futbolero. His wage got a huge hike upon signing his first professional contract with the Catalan giants, to around £2.6m-per-year. 

Meanwhile in Portugal, Ronaldo came through the youth ranks at Sporting Lisbon before joining Manchester United in 2003.

Lionel Messi received his record-extending 8th Ballon d’Or award during the 2023 Ballon d’Or France Football award ceremony in October

With Sporting, he reportedly took home a yearly wage of £860,000 after signing his maiden professional deal. The striker’s paypacket more than doubled to an annual salary of £1.8m after moving to Old Trafford. 

Various estimates place Messi and Ronaldo’s net worth in the region of £400m and £600m respectively, though those numbers are speculative. 

According to Forbes, Messi and Ronaldo each made in excess of £100m in 2023 from their salary and off-field earnings. Those numbers made them the highest-paid athletes on the planet.  

What is certain is that they have been two of the biggest names in the sport, allowing them to reap vast financial rewards from their talents. 



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