According to SportsPro 50 Most Marketable Athletes (50MM) annual report, Argentine soccer legend, Lionel Messi, has been named as the world’s most marketable athlete for 2023. The Inter Miami forward tops the list for a second time, finishing ahead of National Basketball Association (NBA) icon LeBron James and Portuguese soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo
The Inter Miami playmaker, who is one of the favourites for the 2023 Ballon d’Or reclaimed the top rankings, having previously reached number one in 2020, to become only the second sportsperson in 50MM history to claim the spot on two occasions.
The 36-year-old playmaker had a spectacular 2022/2023 after guiding Argentina to win the 2022 Qatar World Cup in December. Also, the former Barcelona star who had a lucrative career with French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain before his move to MLS side Inter Miami over the summer.
Last year’s winner, Cristiano Ronaldo slipped to 27th after his move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr.
US Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) striker Alex Mogan is third, with NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Morgan’s USWNT teammate Megan Rapinoe completing the top five.
This year’s list also underlines the growing commercial influence and value of women’s sport. There are four women in the top ten and female athletes make up nearly 50 per cent of the top 50. US Open tennis champion Coco Gauff takes the title of the most marketable teenager, with the 19-year-old sitting in 12th place.
Soccer, basketball, tennis and motorsport have the greatest number of athletes in the top 50 but other major international sports are less well represented. Notably, no rugby players made the cut and while US athletes accounted for 26 per cent of the top 50 there are no players from Major League Baseball (MLB). College sports stars Angel Reese and Olivia Dunne also cracked the top 50 as the impact of name, image and likeness (NIL) rights continues to be felt.