So just how much would it cost to sign him?
➤ The Argentine may be available but maths of a deal to land Messi remain staggering, writes Ben Rumsby
Lionel Messi’s transfer request at Barcelona is likely to trigger a scramble for his signature. But how many clubs would be able to afford someone many consider the greatest player of all time? The potential cost of signing Messi breaks down as follows:
This could prove the key to Messi being allowed to leave Barca at all. His contract has a buy-out clause worth a staggering €700million (£626.7million). Strangely, the same four-year deal, signed in 2017, also contains a clause allowing him to leave for nothing at the end of every season until June of this year. In his transfer request, Messi asked for that clause to be honoured now because last season had been artificially extended due to the coronavirus crisis. Barca are refusing to budge and are reportedly insisting on a world-record transfer fee in excess of £200million.
Even if Messi secures a free transfer, he will command a massive signing-on fee. The one he secured when he last extended his Barca contract ran to €133.5million over the course of the deal. Transfer fee or not, any club wanting to bring in Messi would also probably need to fork out millions for him to sign.
Messi’s fixed weekly Barca wage before tax is €1.37million, or €60.4million a year. To put that in context, the Premier League’s highest-paid player ever, Alexis Sanchez, was on less than half that at Manchester United. Paying Messi somewhere near what he earns at the Nou Camp would therefore shatter the wage structure of any club.
Bonuses and other costs
Messi’s Barca contract includes bonuses that would boost his annual earnings to anything up to €122.5million a season if he was to help the club win every major trophy and be crowned World Player of the Year. He is also said to have been granted exclusive image rights worth millions a year. In total, Messi’s average annual income over the course of his contract is estimated to have been in excess of €106million.
Who could afford Messi?
Potentially no one – especially in a post-coronavirus landscape. Realistically, his potential suitors would appear to be limited to an elite group of mega-rich super-clubs, including the likes of Manchester City and Paris St-Germain, or a team in China or the Middle East for whom money is no object.