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PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

Lionel Messi: The Massive Money Behind His Move to PSG

The all-time superstar’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain could earn him over $70 million in 2021-22. But Messi’s bottom line isn’t the only one about to change.

With a wave from a Paris airport window, legendary Argentinean forward Lionel Messi arrived on Tuesday afternoon to a warm reception from fans of his new team, Paris Saint-Germain, closing the book on the player’s long and seemingly unbreakable tenure with FC Barcelona.

Now, he arrives to further his legacy in a new league with a lucrative two-year contract.

Let’s dive into the numbers.

Lionel Messi’s Contract Details With PSG

He agreed to a two-year deal with PSG worth £35 million ($48.4 million) after taxes and including bonuses, with an option for a third year worth £25 million ($34.6 million). He’s also due to receive a £25 million signing bonus for joining the club.

With all details included, as Forbes’ Christina Settimi reports, the deal will pay Messi an annual gross salary of approximately $75 million.

All because Barcelona were not able to unload enough debt to complete a deal with their all-time greatest star.

Messi, 34, was set to sign a five-year deal with his former employer. However, Barcelona cited “financial and structural obstacles” getting in the way of completing the process, despite Messi being willing to take a sizable discount to stay with the team. This led to an emotional press conference in which a tearful Messi said goodbye for good and lamented how things could have reached such a point.

Now, off he goes to Paris, with pockets bulging (almost) as big as they ever have.

And critically, though he won’t receive the incredible sum he pocketed during 2020-21 season that fell barely short of $100 million, he’ll could still end up the highest-paid player for 2021-22.

Is Messi Still the Highest-paid Athlete in the World by On-field Earnings?

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Messi inked a lucrative deal with PSG that will keep him among the top three earners in his sport — per Forbes, Messi was No. 1 among the highest-earning footballers of the past year at $130. Portugal and Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is second at $120 million, with Brazil’s Neymar (and once again Messi’s teammate at PSG) at $95 million.

Messi, a six-time winner of the Ballon d’Or recognizing the best men’s footballer the world, will make €67 ($78.81) per minute in base pay, over €96,000 per day and nearly €3,000,000 per month with this new contract, as Football Tips calculates, not even taking into account the one-time $34.6 million signing bonus.

One of soccer’s all-time greats has certainly earned the big payday as he has dazzled on the pitch for the better part of two decades.

But Messi’s blockbuster move doesn’t just change his own fortunes.

Two of the Beautiful Game’s most famous clubs are in for serious changes as well.

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How Does Messi’s Move Affect the Finances of Barcelona and PSG?

Reuniting Messi with Neymar teaming up with Kylian Mbappe makes for arguably the most lethal attacking trio ever assembled in club soccer. That means more demand for tickets and televised games alike.

Given the sheer extent to which TV makes the sports world go ’round, an increase in value is given for the club, with sports data firm Turnstile estimating 20% growth in fanbase size and significant expansion of sponsorship value.

Naturally, this could potentially mean considerable drop-offs for Barcelona. According to Brand Finance, the Catalan club could see an 11% decrease in its own value, which could chip just over $160 million off the club’s current estimated valuation, knocking it down to about $1.48 billion.

In a Tuesday press release, Brand Finance broke down that number into three key areas:

  • Commercial revenue: When measured many different ways, Messi’s personal brand is unequivocally stronger than that of his former team. With that in mind, the club stands to lose $90.3 million.
  • Team performance and gameday revenue: As one of the premier goal-scorers in the history of the game and the most decorated individual player of his generation, Barcelona could miss out on $20 million in brand value from match days.
  • Merchandise revenue: As far as jersey sales are concerned, Barcelona kit manufacturer Nike stands to take the biggest share of the losses, but the club itself could still lose an estimated $50.4 million in brand value here.

Notably, according to Forbes’ rankings published in April 2021, Barcelona is the most valuable club in global soccer, slightly ahead of La Liga rivals Real Madrid. PSG ranks ninth.

Though the final tally is still to be determined, Messi signing with the French champions will surely cause some movement in those rankings. And given the man’s penchant for being a singular economic force, his impact in that regard should not be underestimated.