The world’s 3rd most marketable athlete - Cristiano Ronaldo

On the pitch, he may be overshadowed - just - by Lionel Messi, but off it Cristiano Ronaldo remains the most marketable player in the world's most popular sport.

The world’s 3rd most marketable athlete - Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo - Portuguese, 26, soccer (2)

On the pitch, he may be overshadowed – just – by Lionel Messi, but off it Cristiano Ronaldo remains the most marketable player in the world’s most popular sport.

The last point is something of a misnomer, however, since the reason for Ronaldo’s supreme marketability is that – and, for the most part, unlike Messi – his appeal transcends the world of soccer. The Portuguese has followed in David Beckham’s footsteps in more than his move from one of the world’s biggest sports brands, Manchester United, to another, Real Madrid. He also replaced the Englishman as the face and body of Armani, and his current endorsements include a multi-million dollar deal with Castrol. Additional ventures like the fashion boutique, CR7, which his sister operates on his behalf, are just a bonus.

A penchant for outrageous clothes – has the Beckham comparison already been made? – an ongoing relationship with fellow Armani model Irina Shayk and the announcement, out of the blue, that he had fathered a child with an unknown woman have ensured he spends as much time on the front pages of newspapers as the back. Not that his soccerbased deals are to be sneered at: his contract with Nike is worth some US$32.5 million over six years, and he reportedly receives a 50per cent share of his image rights under his contract with Madrid.

A fifth consecutive appearance in this summer’s Uefa Team of the Year, as voted for by fans – more than 12 million of them so far – is a given. A contract with Ronaldo is less so: his management apparently turn down 85 per cent of endorsement offers, rejecting one €3 million deal because a photoshoot would have clashed with a Real Madrid training session.