Messi and Ronaldo’s monster salaries compared to Zidane, Maradona and past stars

Footballers' salaries have continued to rise to stratospheric levels over the years – but have you ever wondered how much stars from the past would earn if they were still playing today?

While big-name icons such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo lead the way in the modern era, the likes of Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane were the stars of yesteryear.

Money has poured into the game from all angles with each decade that has passed, but the top athletes have always been handsomely rewarded for their talents.

But just how well are today's heroes paid in comparison with their own idols when taking inflation into account?

Thankfully Vanquis have come up with the answers in their Ultimate Sports Rich List, and the astonishing findings speak for themselves.

Of all the players past and present to have graced the game, it is perhaps appropriate that arguably the best of them, Lionel Messi – with his record of six Ballon d'Ors in tow – has pocketed the most cash.

The Barcelona captain collects the staggering sum of just over £68.3million per year, with a significant gap over those chasing behind.

Messi rakes in £16m more than closest superstar, Neymar, who boosted his earnings following his world record transfer to PSG back in 2018.

So much so that the Brazilian just edges five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, of Juventus, who earns a cool £51.9m.

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There is then an even bigger jump to the next stars on the list, Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, all of whom bank £20m,ahead of Mohamed Salah on £17m.

If you compare those to the wage packet of Real Madrid legend-turned-manager Zinedine Zidane in 2001, the stars of today are quids in.

Zidane was being paid £3.7m two decades ago – the equivalent of £5.6m today, which works out at just under £110,000 per week.

Those sorts of salaries are common in the Premier League and across Europe now, even for the stars underneath the top bracket of talent.

But going further back, the disparity unsurprisingly grows even larger.

Maradona was picking up £2.2m while at Napoli in 1990 – the year he led Argentina to a second successive World Cup final.

That's more than three times what Pelé was earning 15 years prior, on his wage just shy of £700k from New York Cosmos, while Man Utd's George Best was on just £92k seven years before that.

Of course, these were big figures at their time, but even with inflation thrown on top, they would still pale in comparison with Messi and co.

Maradona would now be coining £4.4m a year, ahead of Pelé on £3.3m, with Best trailing behind on £687k.

Here is the full list:

Current stars earnings (per year)

Lionel Messi – £68,309,724

Neymar – £52,346,039

Cristiano Ronaldo – £51,974,790

Kylian Mbappé – £20,789,916

Paul Pogba – £20,789,916

Antoine Griezmann – ££20,789,916

Mohamed Salah – £17,819,928

David de Gea – £17,819,928

Robert Lewandowski – £17,819,928

Gareth Bale – £17,077,431

Harry Kane – £10,361,786

Past icons

(Previous earnings/equivalent to today)

Zinedine Zidane – £3,771,885 (2001) / £5,656,168

Diego Maradona – £2,227,491 (1990)/ £4,435,025

Pelé – £692,997 (1975) / £3,352,007

George Best – £92,003 (1968) / £687,982

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