David Beckham remains the highest-earning football player in the world, for the third year running, according to Forbes magazine. The 35-year-old earned $40m (£26m) in 2009, with about 80% of that coming from sponsors such as Adidas, Giorgio Armani and Motorola.

Cristiano Ronaldo is second on the Forbes list, earning $30m (£19.5m) a year. The Portugal midfielder’s major sponsors include Nike, Coca-Cola and, like Beckham, Giorgio Armani. He signed a six-year contract with real Madrid that pays an estimated $15.5m in the first year, then increases by 25%.

3rd to 10th: Kaká, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Steven Gerrard.

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Former England captain David Beckham has advised Cristiano Ronaldo to stay at Manchester United for the good of his career.

The Portugal winger has been linked with both Real Madrid – Beckham’s club until the end of the season when he will move to Major League Soccer with the Los Angeles Galaxy – and Barcelona in recent months.

After last summer’s World Cup Ronaldo was heavily criticised for the part he played in getting United team-mate Wayne Rooney sent off during England’s quarter-final defeat against Portugal.

But Beckham, who received similar treatment after his sending-off at the 1998 World Cup, believes Ronaldo should stay at Old Trafford under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson.

‘He is at the right club. He is being looked after by a manager who knows how to look after someone who has been through what he has,’ the former United midfielder told the Sunday Express.

‘I may not have got through the things I did without the United manager, the players and the fans. I owe them everything.’

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