Soccer's highest-paid players of 2019, according to Forbes

The world’s top soccer players aren’t always household names in the United States, but superstars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have parlayed the sport’s global fan base into massive annual income.

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Soccer stars hold the top three spots on Forbes’ current list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, and their earnings have regularly outpaced those of the top players in the NFL or NBA in recent years. Salary is only one source of their income -- many players have built their fortunes through endorsement deals or entrepreneurial pursuits.

FOX Business breaks down the world’s highest-paid soccer players of 2019 below, according to Forbes’ annual calculations.

Andrés Iniesta, Vissel Kobe, Spain’s national team

KAWASAKI, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 28: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Andres Iniesta of Vissel Kobe in action during the J.League J1 match between Kawasaki Frontale and Vissel Kobe at Todoroki Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Masa

Total earnings: $32. 5 million

A mainstay on Spain’s national team for more than a decade, Iniesta is considered one of the greatest midfielders in soccer’s history. He scored the winning goal in Spain’s championship match victory over the Netherlands in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The 35-year-old earned $30 million in salary in the 12 months ending in June and has a lucrative endorsement deal with Japanese apparel brand Asics.

Paul Pogba, Manchester United, France’s national team

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Paul Pogba of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on August 24, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via G

Total earnings: $33 million

Pogba was such a sought-offer talent that he joined Manchester United in 2016 for a then-record transfer fee of 105 million pounds (roughly $115 million). He played a critical role in France’s run to the 2018 FIFA World Cup title, scoring a goal in the tournament final.

He earns $29 million in salary with the Premier League club and an additional $4 million from endorsement deals, including a pact with Adidas.

Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil’s national team

ENFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 28: Neymar Jr of Brazil during a Brazil Training Session at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre on May 28, 2018 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Total earnings: $105 million

A rising star on and off the field, Neymar holds the current record for the biggest transfer in sports history. Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona 222 million euros ($243 million) to acquire Neymar’s services, and he is due to earn $350 million in overall salary through 2022. Over the last year, he’s earned $75 million in salary and an additional $30 million in endorsement deals with the likes of Nike, Red Bull and Beats by Dre.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus, Portugal’s national team

FILE - In this Wednesday, June 28, 2017 filer, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo keeps his eyes on the ball during the Confederations Cup, semifinal soccer match between Portugal and Chile, at the Kazan Arena, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

Total earnings: $109 million

Arguably the world’s most well-known soccer star, Ronaldo has scored more goals than any other active player and played for top clubs such as Inter Milan, Real Madrid and A.C. Milan. His portfolio of endorsement deals includes partnerships with Nike, streaming platform DAZN, Herbalife and his own line of apparel and accessories, CR7.

He earns $65 million in salary and another $44 million off the pitch. Ronaldo has a lifetime contract with Nike. The brand stood by him amid a lawsuit from a woman who accused Ronaldo of paying for her silence over an alleged sexual assault.

Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona, Argentina’s national team

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between FC Barcelona v Villarreal at the Camp Nou on September 24, 2019 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Total earnings: $127 million

At 31, Messi is already the world’s second-most prolific active goal scorer, trailing only Ronaldo. He is due to earn more than $80 million in salary annually through the 2020-21 season. He earned another $35 million in the 12 months ending in June through sponsorship deals with Adidas, Gatorade and Mastercard, among other brands.

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