Cristiano Ronaldo has become the top earning athlete in the world after making £61million last year alone beating long-term leader Floyd Mayweather Jnr into first place. The retired boxer, who fought just once within the last 12 months, earned £30million.

Ronaldo struck a £38.5million-a-year salary with Spanish giants Real Madrid. Plus his endorsement deals with Nike, watchmaker Tag Heuer and nutrition supplements group Herbalife were worth £22million.

Messi, meanwhile, brought in $28m (£19.4m) from sponsors over the last 12 months, with his Adidas contract worth more than $10m (£6.9m) annually.

The Argentina captain, who earned bonuses from Barca and Adidas when he landed the Ballon d'Or in January, also has sponsorship deals with Huawei, Tata Motors, PepsiCo, Gillette and Electronic Arts.

Ronaldo and Messi saw off competition from basketball's LeBron James, who ranks third with total earnings of $77.2m (£53.4m), and tennis' Roger Federer, who sits fourth on $67.8m (£46.9m). Fellow basketball player Kevin Durant completes the top five, having earned $56.2m (£38.6m).