After months of speculation, Lionel Messi inked a new contract with FC Barcelona on Saturday morning that commits him to Camp Nou through the 2020-21 season when he is 34-years old.
His previous deal was set to expire at the end of this current season. In July, the club had announced an agreement was in the works, but it took four months for the Argentine superstar to agree to financial terms. Had Messi not signed, he would have been free to listen to offers from other teams on Jan. 1.
Now it seems no other club can afford to go knocking on Barca’s door for him anytime soon. With this signing, the club confirmed his new buyout clause is set at $835 million (€700 million), more than double his previous clause ($357 million / €300 million). According to Spanish paper El Mundo, Messi will receive a $59.6 million signing bonus. Two Forbes sources say he will earn $667,000 a week. Last season he made $50 million in salary and bonus for his efforts on the pitch.
If his entire bonus is paid this season, Messi will gain the top spot on our annual list of The World’s Highest Paid Soccer Players and round out the top three of The World’s Highest Paid Athletes. Combined with his $30 million in endorsement income, anchored by his lifetime deal with German sportswear giant Adidas and including a new deal with Spanish sunglass maker Hawkers for a signature line, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner could bank over $130 million by this current campaign’s end. Among the highest paid in the world, he could be sandwiched between Floyd Mayweather who earned in excess of $200 million and his August 2017 opponent Conor McGregor who earned an estimated $105 million.
Last year, Real Madrid-rival and FIFA’s reigning world’s best player Cristiano Ronaldo made $93 million to earn the top spot on both lists. In November 2016 the Portuguese winger signed a deal also through June 2021 that will pay him an estimated $60 million this season in salary and bonus. Off the pitch the human billboard will bank another estimated $40 million from a global portfolio of products including Nike, Herbalife, Clear men’s hair products, and his own CR7 brand of clothes, shoes, fragrance and hotels.
Messi owes Neymar a few thanks for his latest deal. The 25-year old Brazilian exited Camp Nou for PSG in August. His five-year contract with the French capital club through June 2022 (five months before the World Cup in club owner’s country of Qatar) is estimated to pay him $350 million in salary and bonus before-tax, considered the best paying deal in the world until today. But it was his record $263 million (€222 million) buy-out payment, which Barca accepted in full, that helped pave the way for Messi’s recent increase, as outlined here by SportsMoney contributor Bobby McMahon.
By the time Messi’s new deal expires, the 30-year-old striker will have spent 17 years with the first team. Per Forbes calculations, he has already made $530 million in earnings (salary, bonus, and endorsements) since the start of his professional career, and could see that swell to $875 million by contract’s end. Messi’s brand value is estimated at $13.5 million, No. 9 in the world among athletes on our annual Forbes Fab 40 list of the world’s most valuable sports brands.
Since he arrived at age 13, Messi has helped Barcelona win 30 titles, including four Champions League titles and eight Spanish league crowns. He is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 523 goals in 602 matches. On Friday he received his fourth Golden Shoe award for leading all of Europe’s leagues in scoring last season.