Madrid - Nike is to pay Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo €6 million (R64m) a year until 2014 under a new sponsorship deal reached with the Portuguese winger.
Spanish sports daily Marca reported on Thursday that the 25-year-old had earned €4.5m under his previous contract with the world's largest sporting goods maker.
Although the new deal makes Ronaldo the best paid footballer of those whom Nike sponsors, the amount he makes is still lower than that dished out to other athletes, such as basketball stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James of the NBA.
Bryant, who plays for the LA Lakers, earns €7.5m a year while James, who plays for Cleveland, earns €9m a year, according to Marca.
The paper said the US sportswear-maker had stepped up its negotiations with Ronaldo in the face of attempts by its German rival Adidas to lure him away.
Ronaldo, who took part in a Nike promotional event in London on Wednesday, became the world's most expensive footballer when he was transferred from Manchester United to Real in 2008 for €94m. - Sapa-AFP