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The list will take into account salary and sponsorship deals and is quoted in US dollars. Money talks, as the old saying goes. Not literally, of course, but figuratively especially when it comes to influencing what other people may or may not do for it.

1. Lionel Messi

Barcelona & Argentina

Net Worth: $44million

Well, I think we can quite safely say that Messi has paved his place as the best footballer in the world since I made the initial list in 2009. And now he is also the highest paid footballer in the world. Sponsor includes Adidas, Pepsi and Konami video games.

2. David Beckham

LA Galaxy & England

Net Worth: $40.5million

I guess he would be careful the elder statesman now, but he’s still at the top of tree when it comes to the highest paid footballers 2011. Not only backing deals with Adidas and Motorola, but we also have his own underwear and aftershave lines to consider.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid & Portugal

Net Worth: $40million

Well you would actually believe that anyone who is anyone is sponsor Cristiano Ronaldo. Still in great form playing for Real, and we all know the golden statue Nike commercial.

4. Kaka

Real Madrid & Brazil

Net Worth: $25million

Kaka didn’t have a great 2010 due to injuries, but class is enduring. A great player who I’m sure still has many headlines to make. He should also be extremely pleased with the great deals he has with the likes of Giorgio Armani and Nike.

5. Thierry Henry

New York Red Bulls & France

Net Worth: $24million

Once more we have a high caliber player who remains in the list from 2 years ago. Henry has always been careful a commercially marketable footballer and I see no reason for this to be any different in the American market.

6. Ronaldinho

AC Milan & Brazil

Net Worth: $23million

It’s funny, but you hear practically nothing about Ronaldinho for years and yet he still leftovers amongst the top 10 highest paid footballers for 2011. Often careful a “luxury player” by certain parts of the media, and still feature high in Nike’s 2010 World Cup adverts even though Dunga had dropped him from the squad!

7. Carlos Tevez

Manchester City & Argentina

Net Worth: $20.5million

His switch from the red side of Manchester to the blue was question by many. Was his transfer solely motivated by cash? Hard to tell, but I’m sure the huge weekly pay-check from City and sizeable sponsorship deal with Nike will numb the pain of leaving regular Premiership winners and constant Champion League contender.

8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Barcelona & Sweden

Net Worth: $20million

Yet another name which remains in the top 10 highest paid footballers list from 2009. Ibrahimovic moved from Barcelona to Inter for a cool $94million in what is the 3rd highest transfer fee in football history. He has a fantastic endorsement deal with Nike that makes up a fair proportion of his annual haul.

9. Frank Lampard

Chelsea & England

Net Worth: $19.3million

I note that some readers were surprised to see Frank in the 2009 list, but he’s managed to make the Highest Paid Footballers 2011 list as well! Frank has stood out as the most marketable Englishman in the Chelsea team with both John Terry and Ashley Cole opposite intense media conjecture over the last couple of years. Frank enjoys backing deals with Adidas and Orange, the cell phone network.

10. Steven Gerrard

Liverpool & England

Net Worth: $18million

The Liverpool and occasional England captain is now signed to the Reds until 2013 and has major backing deals with both Adidas and Lucozade.


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