The diminutive Argentine is widely regarded as the best player in the game today, having won the Ballon d'Or for the past three years, and reportedly earns €33m per season
According to France Football, who released figures for the best paid players in the world on Tuesday, Barcelona forward Messi raked in €33 million last year from wages and sponsorship deals.
LA Galaxy midfielder and former England captain Beckham, for so long the game’s top earner, came in second on €31.5m, while Real Madrid star Ronaldo collected €29.2m in 2011.
Elsewhere, Samuel Eto’o, who made a lucrative move from Inter to Anzhi Makhachkala last summer, is fourth on the list, with Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney fifth.
Wealthy Premier League outfit Manchester City have two players in the top ten, with Argentine forward Sergio Aguero and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure sixth and seventh, respectively.
The only other club represented twice are Madrid, with Ronaldo's team-mate Kaka ranking ninth.
Elsewhere, it is worth noting that Chelsea misfit Fernando Torres, who finally got back amongst the goals at the weekend, netted €16.7m during his disastrous first 12 months at Stamford Bridge.
There is not a single player based in Serie A in the top 10 but there is one representative from the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich skipper Philipp Lahm.
|TOP 20 RICHEST FOOTBALLERS|
|NO.||PLAYER||SALARY (per annum)||BONUSES||OTHER INCOME||TOTAL EARNING|
|1||Lionel Messi (Barcelona)||€10.5m||€1.5m||€21m||€33m|
|2||David Beckham (LA Galaxy)||€4.8m||€0.7m||€26m||€31.5m|
|3||Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)||€13m||€0.7m||€15.5m||€29.2m|
|4||Samuel Eto'o (Anzhi Makhachkala)||€20m||€0.3m||€3m||€23.3m|
|5||Wayne Rooney (Manchester Utd)||€13.8m||€0.8m||€6m||€20.6m|
|6||Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)||€12.5m||€1.3m||€5m||€18.8m|
|7||Yaya Toure (Manchester City)||€13.8m||€1.3m||€2.5m||€17.6m|
|8||Fernando Torres (Chelsea)||€10.8m||€0.7m||€5.2m||€16.7m|
|9||Kaka (Real Madrid)||€10m||€0.5m||€5m||€15.5m|
|10||Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich)||€10m||€0.6m||€3.7m||€14.3m|
|11||Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)||€9m||€2.5m||€2.5m||€14m|
|12||Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern)||€10m||€0.6m||€3.3m||€13.9m|
|14||Nicolas Anelka (Shanghai Shenhua)||€8.6m||€0.6m||€3.8m||€13m|
|15||Frank Lampard (Chelsea)||€8.2m||€0.5m||€4.2m||€12.9m|
|16||David Silva (Manchester City)||€9.4m||€1.3m||€2.1m||€12.8m|
|17||Didier Drogba (Chelsea)||€7.7m||€0.9m||€4m||€12.6m|
|18||Dario Conca (Guangzhou Evergrande)||€10.6m||€1.3m||€0.6m||€12.5m|
|19||Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)||€5m||€0.3m||€6.4m||€11.7m|
|20||Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)||€10m||€0.6m||€1m||€11.6m|
How do you stay up to date with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com – your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.