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How much money did Messi earn at Barcelona? How much could he earn at PSG?

Leo Messi was Barcelona's highest-paid player and the top-earning footballer in the world in 2020, so how much will he expect to be paid at his next club?

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring against Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou on February 16, 2021.
David RamosGetty Images

Having departed Barcelona after 21 years at Camp Nou, coming through the ranks at La Masia to become one of the greatest players in the history of the game and the winner of six Ballons d'Or, Leo Messi is now a free agent after his contract expired in June and widely expected to be unveiled sometime this week as a Paris Saint-Germain player, where he will line up alongside his former Barça teammate Neymar, France star Kylian Mbappé and his old foe Sergio Ramos, who left Real Madrid earlier this summer after talks on a new deal at the Bernabéu broke down.

Barcelona financial situation led to Messi exit

The main reason Messi was forced to leave his lifelong club was money. The Argentina captain had accepted a 50% pay cut in line with the rest of the first-team squad as Barcelona seek to balance the books in the face of a crippling wage bill and the economic ramifications of the coronavirus crisis, exacerbated by the financial mismanagement of the board that preceded the return of former president Joan Laporta earlier this year. Losses for 2020-21 were put at around €400 million by an audit. Even with Messi's salary reduction taken into account, Barça currently spend 95% of the club's income on player wages. Had Messi been retained - which Laporta said was impossible due to Liga salary restrictions and the club's parlous financial state - that figure would have risen to 110%.

When Messi last signed a contract extension at Camp Nou, he became the highest-paid footballer in the world on a salary variously reported as being between €70m and €90m per season. Forbes listed Messi as the highest-earning footballer in the world in 2020 with an estimated total of €126m split between his salary and sponsorship deals. Even at €70m a year, Messi will have earned over €1m a week at Barcelona, in line with his status and arguably (depending on your personal view of players' wages) not bad value for a player who has contributed to 34 trophies in his 17 years as a Barcelona first-team player. Although such figures are rarely exact and there are many variables in a player's value to a club, Messi's impact off the pitch cannot be understated either: his departure is estimated to be depriving the Camp Nou coffers of €137 million in commercial interests and match-day income alone in 2021-22.   

PSG to break bank for Messi?

While there is little doubt PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi will be prepared to push the boat out to land a player he has coveted for years, the Ligue 1 side are not quite as free-spending as they may appear, largly due to their own historical issues with FFP. The Parc des Princes board broke the world transfer record to land Neymar from Barcelona but they were obliged to do so by the constraints of the minimum release clause written into the Brazilian's Camp Nou contract. In fact, PSG operate a fairly tight wage structure and while they will be willing to bend it a tad to ensure they secure Messi's services, the Argentina captain will probably wind up earning less in Paris than he would have done at Barcelona even after a 50% reduction in his wages.

Neymar, the highest-paid player at PSG, earns a relatively modest €30m a year, with various add-ons in the form of performance bonuses. Of course, the captain of Brazil feathers his nest rather handsomely off the pitch with sponsorship deals and his previous deal at the club, signed in 2017, did not include his image rights, from which clubs usually earn a huge fee themselves. 

Kylian Mbappé, arguably the hottest property in world football and the player most likely to one day beat Neymar's €222m transfer record, is on an annual wage in the region of €19m - the disparity with the Brazilian is one reason he has been reluctant to agree to a new deal on the terms currently being offered.

Lower down the PSG pay scale are players such as Euro 2020 winner Marco Verratti, who earns €7m a year, World Cup-winning France defender Presnel Kimpembe (€4m) and Mauro Icardi (€10m). Compared with their counterparts in the Premier League, these are not astronomical figures.

Messi likely to earn on a par with Neymar

As such, Messi can expect to be offered a deal similar to that enjoyed by Neymar, with a signing bonus as a free agent and various incentives based on appearances, goals and trophies. Some reports have suggested that PSG will consider making the Argentinean their highest-paid player but even then Messi can probably anticipate an annual salary in the ballpark of €35-€40m, still less than half of what he and Barcelona hammered out as a cut-price deal for him to remain at Camp Nou.


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