During Lionel Messi’s illustrious career, it was always given that the FC Barcelona star was well compensated for his talent.
There has never been a better time to become the greatest player in history at one of the richest clubs in the world. You can assume that Messi is paid the same as the world’s top athletes, such as Patrick Mahomes, LeBron James, and Mike Trout.
Thanks to leaks via the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, we now know that you were wrong. Very wrong.
In fact, Messi’s reported earnings beat all known athlete salaries, even the half-billion dollar contract Mahomes received last year and is widely reported to be a record in the sports industry.
Lionel Messi’s contract has rocked the world
Here is the total number of contracts Messi signed in 2017, through Italian reporter Fabrizio Romano: € 555,237,619 over four years, with an annual salary of € 138 million including variables, € 115 million “renewal fees” and a € 77 million loyalty bonus.
With five months remaining in the deal, Messi has already earned € 511 million.
El Mundo today, what a bomb. Leo Messi’s contract with Barcelona was revealed on the front page ??? @elmundoes
– Contract € 555,237,619 [4 years].
– € 138 million per fixed + variable season.
– € 115,225,000 in ‘renewal fee’ for receiving contracts only.
– € 77,929,955 loyalty bonus. pic.twitter.com/FK3I34hJta
– Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) 31 January 2021
Those figures translate to $ 674 million for the entire contract, $ 167 million per year, $ 139 million in renewal fees, and a $ 94.6 million loyalty bonus in 2020 dollars.
Compare that to Mahomes’ 10-year, $ 503 million deal (in fact $ 450 million due to some creative accountants) or Mike Trout’s 12-year contract, $ 420 million, and you’ll see that the highest accomplishment of European football is flying American sports salaries. Messi’s contract is higher than the highest of the biggest contracts ever recorded, and there you have it only for four years. Total cash during the outgoing contract was approximately $ 320.55 per minute.
In fact, Messi’s annual earnings are $ 167 million more than Trout, LeBron James, Tom Brady and Connor McDavid’s combined wages this year, according to Spotrac’s figures for annual cash.
Only from his income from Barcelona, it looks like Messi is already a billionaire. What’s even more unbelievable is that Messi actually tried to get out of this contract a few months ago, looking for the club to pay his $ 828 million release clause.
Barcelona’s finances are in bad shape
Why do we only find out about Messi’s salary now?
Well, it may have something to do with Barcelona’s current finances, and the fact that Messi seems intent on leaving the club in a few months.
Barcelona’s decline on the global stage has coincided with an astonishing accumulation of debt amidst player acquisitions and the COVID-19 financial crisis sweeping the world of sport. According to ESPN, Barcelona’s total debt currently stands at € 1.173 billion, with net debt of € 488 million, with player spending reportedly at 74 percent.
It’s not that different from what many of the football giants are experiencing today (Real Madrid’s debt is reported to be € 901 million), but it is surprising nonetheless. So it makes sense why Messi’s salary came out of nowhere, with Barcelona on the brink of a painful austerity period.
Messi’s brilliance has earned Barcelona millions, maybe billions, over the years. Barcelona signed him for the deal for a reason; it has been one of the most valuable sports products in the world for a decade. Now, the club is best served by reminding its fans how much it costs.
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