Brazilian international soccer player Neymar has been ranked as the most marketable sportsman on the planet by SportsPro magazine.
The 20-year-old Santos player, likely to feature in this year's Olympic Games as well as the 2014 Fifa World Cup in his home country of Brazil, topped the third annual SportsPro 50 Most Marketable Athletes list.
Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, the US Open champion, was ranked second with Barcelona record-breaker Lionel Messi in third. The full list is published in the June edition of SportsPro magazine.
Athletes across the world were ranked according to their marketing potential over the next three years. Criteria included age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal.
"Neymar is very much the perfect storm: young, gifted and with an Olympics and a home World Cup on the horizon.
Neymar succeeds Olympic 100 metres champion Usain Bolt as number one. NBA star LeBron James topped the rankings in 2010.
SportsPro editor David Cushnan said: "Neymar is very much the perfect storm: young, gifted and with an Olympics and a home World Cup on the horizon. He is already a superstar in Brazil, one of the world's most robust economies and a vast market to boot.
"If you were a brand looking to make an impact in Brazil, he would certainly be the athlete you'd pick. Neymar is Brazil's poster boy for its sporting decade."
This year's list includes 20 new entries including tennis star Novak Djokovic, Formula One driver Sergio Perez, golfer Yani Tseng, NBA newcomer Jeremy Lin, and Arsenal and England soccer player Jack Wilshere.
Tiger Woods, ranked third in the inaugural 2010 list, re-enters the list in 47th place after dropping out of the top 50 last year.
The list features seven soccer players, six each from basketball and tennis, five racing drivers, four golfers and four American football players. There are 19 Americans in the top 50, seven Britons and three each from Russia and Brazil.
LPGA player Yani Tseng is the highest-ranked of the eight women on the list in tenth place.
Notable absentees for the first time this year include global stars such as Wayne Rooney, Kobe Bryant and Fernando Alonso.
SportsPro: The World’s Ten Most Marketable Athletes 2012
- Rory McIlroy
- Lionel Messi
- Usain Bolt
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Blake Griffin
- Novak Djokovic
- Sebastian Vettel
- Tim Tebow
- Yani Tseng
The full list of the World's 50 Most Marketable Athletes, plus comprehensive commercial analysis of each and every athlete, detailing their inclusion on this year’s list and explaining their ranking, will be published in the June edition of SportsPro and at sportspromedia.com. To subscribe to SportsPro magazine please visit www.sportspromedia.com/shop