Argentine Lionel Messi, who many consider the greatest soccer player today, was ranked fourth. “A year ago there was some debate as to who the best soccer player in the world was – Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? There can be none now. Lionel Messi is simply a phenomenon,” SportsPro says. “Messi truly is a worthy successor to Diego Maradona.”
His annual endorsement income jumped to a reported $23.5 million last year after he last year alone picked up deals with both Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet and Chinese car manufacturer Chery, according to the magazine.
The SportsPro ranking was published days before the 23-year old Messi helped his team
“Unpretentious and camera-shy away from the pitch – unlike global icons such as Ronaldo and David Beckham – Messi’s brand has been built exclusively on his footballing ability and achievements,” SportsPro says. (Soccer is known as football outside of the
NEYMAR: EUROPE NEXT
Meanwhile, another Latin American soccer player also made the list:
“The sponsors courting him are just as high profile, “ SportsPro says. Nike recently signed the striker to an 11-year deal, while Panasonic spent $2.4 million to secure his services for two years in March, it reports. Neymar has worked with agency Traffic Sports Management and as of April with 9ine.
PUJOLS: BASEBALL'S MOST MARKETABLE
Dominican baseball star Alberto Pujols came in 25th place on the list. The 31-year old Pujols, who is a slugger for the
SILVA: WRESTLING SUPERSTAR
The last Latin American on the list is another Brazilian. However, he’s not tied to soccer, but wrestling. 35-year old Anderson Silva, also known as “The Spider”, comes in 40th place thanks to his prominence in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
“Now, with the UFC’s aggressive expansion plans focusing on a return to Rio de Janeiro in August, Silva breaks into the rankings as a value-for-money athlete with a golden opportunity to cement his position as a home-grown hero in an enormous market, and a global superstar in a sport that is rapidly becoming one of the industry’s hottest new properties with broadcasters and sponsors alike,” SportsPro says.
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