Is Lionel Messi the GOAT? He’s Definitely The Best Paid

The debate about whether Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest soccer player of all time still runs but Messi has the upper-hand when it comes to salary and bonuses.

An unknown source leaked Messi’s lucrative contact to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo last week. The figures are nothing short of staggering and show Messi earns almost double per year than American sports heroes LeBron James (NBA) and Patrick Mahomes (NFL) combined.

Messi put pen to paper on a new four-year deal in 2017. His contract at FC Barcelona features a basic salary that he’s guaranteed to earn, plus several variables such as bonuses for Barcelona’s performances, a $94 million loyalty bonus, and a $139 million renewal premium.

Add everything together and Messi’s blockbuster contract is worth more than $670 million, or $167.5 million annually. This equates to $4,850 per hour, 24-hours per day, and that’s after taxation.

To put that gargantuan salary into context, LeBron James’s salary is approximately $39 million per year and Patrick Mahomes’s record-breaking NFL deal nets him $50.3 million per year over 10 years.

Why Was Messi’s Contract Leaked?

FC Barcelona is in severe financial trouble. One of the biggest and most famous soccer clubs in the world faces the prospect of going bankrupt.

Reports show the LaLiga giants are €1.2 billion ($1.45 billion) in debt, with €730 million ($883.4 million) of that sum considered short-term debt. Banks have given Barcelona a June 30 deadline to repay at least €266 million ($321.89 million).

The club owes €126 million ($152.47 million) to other clubs, including for players who no longer play for Barcelona. It is a massive mess, that is for sure.

Messi wanted to enact a clause in his contract last summer that would have allowed him to leave the club on a free transfer. The club won a legal battle to prevent his from happening, although Messi can leave for free at the end of July 2021.

It is likely someone on the Barcelona Board of Directors purposely leaked Messi’s contract details to El Mundo in an attempt to discredit the Argentinian. El Mundo went as far as claiming Messi’s contract has ruined Barcelona.

The Barcelona board have, obviously, denied leaking any documents and say they are taking legal action. How they’ll pay for that legal representation is anyone’s guess.

Only four copies of the contract exist, according to ESPN. Messi holds one, as does Messi’s legal team. FC Barcelona has a copy and La Liga has the final copy. Which out of that list has the most to gain by leaking Messi’s contract?

There is no chance Messi or his legal team would do such a thing. Neither would La Liga who wants its best stars to remain to play in its league otherwise sponsorship and television revenue plummets. That leaves an almost bankrupt Barcelona who would like Messi to leave and do so under a dark cloud to save them a small fortune in wages. Draw your own conclusions.

“Lionel Messi” by Joan Monfort is licensed under CC BY 3.0

It’s Business As Usual For Messi

Messi isn’t the type of person to drag his business through the press so it is unsurprising that he’s not commented on this story or any speculation surrounding his future.

As is usually the case, Messi has done his talking on the soccer pitch and recently scored his 650th goal for FC Barcelona, a wonderful free-kick, in his side’s 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao. He now has 651 goals in 758 games for Barcelona, which is a ridiculous scoring record. Some 457 of those goals come from his 504 appearances in La Liga.

It is all but guaranteed Messi will leave Barcelona this summer and do so on a free transfer. There are not many clubs who can afford such a massive salary, although Paris St. Germain and Manchester City are two teams who are keeping an eye on Messi’s situation and both have the required finances.

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