FORMER Saints star Gareth Bale is one of the world's highest paid athletes, according to a new report.

The Real Madrid man, 28, ranked 35th on the Forbes' list of top 100 athlete rich list, with earnings of $34.6 million (approx £25million).

The Welsh winger, who came through the Saints academy, was the fourth highest paid footballer, behind Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and PSG star Neymar.

READER LETTER: Could Saints offer Gareth Bale a route back to England?

The list comes just weeks after Bale came off the bench and scored two goals, including a sensational bicycle kick, to lead Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League title.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather topped the list, after netting a staggering £275 million for his fight with martial arts star Conor McGregor, who himself ranked fourth.

Messi and Ronaldo finished second and third respectively, followed by Neymar in fifth.

The top ten also featured basketball stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, American football quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford and tennis legend Roger Federer.