What did the leaked documents show?
According to El Mundo, Messi could receive €555,237,619 (£491,732,285) over four seasons, if a series of conditions were met, while being paid a basic salary of around €72 million (£63.76 million) annually.
The newspaper claims that the contract Messi signed was highly incentivised. Messi was allegedly paid a €115 million (£102 million) renewal bonus just for signing the contract as well as a €77 million (£68.19 million) ‘loyalty bonus’ which was split into two payments.
The newspaper adds that Messi receives further bonuses for playing more than 60 per cent of games throughout the course of a season, as well as progression in the Champions League, winning La Liga or the Copa del Rey, and winning FIFA’s The Best award.
The report said the 33-year-old player may have already secured more than €510 million euros (£451.67 million) of the total.
So, has Messi really earned €510m from Barcelona since 2017?
No. Barcelona’s players also accepted a 70 per cent pay cut in March at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and pledged donations to help the club’s non-sport staff continue to receive their full wages.
Messi would also have to pay about half of his annual salary in taxes in Spain.
And a number of the performance-related bonuses have not been met.
How have Barcelona reacted?
Barcelona denied responsibility for leaking the document and said it would take legal action against the newspaper.
“The club regrets its publication given that it is a private document governed by the principle of confidentiality between the parties,” it said in a statement.
“FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.”
How has Messi reacted?
Messi has not immediately made any public comments about the report.
Barcelona meanwhile expressed its “absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the entity where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history.”
How controversial is this?
It is very controversial as the leak comes at a time when Barcelona are attempting to manage a huge debt created mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club has total debts of almost €1.2 billion, of which €730 million was due to be repaid in the short term, €266 million to various banks by June 30.
Barcelona’s financial woes are such that the club are increasingly interested in establishing a European Super League, which you can read by Going Deeper below.
(Photo: By Sportinfoto and DeFodi Images via Getty Images)