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Lionel Messi: Contract Leak And The Consequences For A Distressed Barcelona


BEVERLY HILLS, January 31, (THEWILL) – These have not been cheery times at the Catalan club, FC Barcelona. As has been reported at different times by THEWILL, the situation in Camp Nou has seen little improvements even on the pitch of play. Inconsistent results like the Cup loss to Athletic Club Bilbao, postponed presidential elections, and a catastrophic financial situation have rocked the club in recent times.

However, all that will pale into the background as a more dramatic situation has erupted at La Blaugrana. On Sunday, the reliable Spanish newspaper El Mundo dropped front page headlines that reverberated across the footballing ecosystem.

The story of the headline leaked a large part of Barca superstar Lionel Messi’s contract, which consists of a total figure of €555,237,619 that Messi signed in November 2017 with the club during the tenure of ex-Barca President Josep María Bartomeu.

From details released, the contract grants the 33-year-old up to €138m per season between the base salary and variables he will receive. The agreement also includes two bonuses: one just for accepting the renewal (€115,225,000) and another €77,929,955 for loyalty by the Catalan club.

The revelations mean that as things currently stand, the Blaugrana captain has already secured 92% of the bonuses in his contract. This is despite recent disappointments in the Champions League, which offers the highest bonuses to participating clubs. Meanwhile, the Argentine continues to earn his base salary as well.

The bold headline with which El Mundo ran their exclusive states that in total, Messi and the club signed a contract worth more than 555 million euros with a duration of four seasons, with June 30, 2021 the term of the contract. What will catch the reader’s attention is what the scandalous figure covers.

The amount includes Messi’s base salary, the image rights that accrue to him, a series of unprecedented bonuses, the player’s diet, and multiple variables depending on various objectives that the Argentine had to reach to claim them.

El Mundo made the report “very reserved and confidential”, with very few people having access to the files. Yet, there are some who argue against the figures released because it does not add up with some critics providing information to the contrary. According to Spanish journalist, Guillem Balague, the yearly salary figures exposed by the report are at odds with what Messi earned in 2017.

The timing of the leak could not have come at a worse time. The financial crisis the Cules are mired in following the enforced lockdowns and the absence of fans at their grounds have all but seen Barca forced to enter negotiations with debtors in the face of approaching repayment deadlines. The club had to negotiate for staggered payment of wages to stay afloat as covered by THEWILL.

Yet, as bad as it is to be facing the threat of insolvency, placing the entire negative outlook at the Catalan giant on Messi’s outrageous wages will be incongruent with the facts, especially considering that the 33-year-old has been the club’s saving grace innumerable times in recent years. It will just be as naive to not question the Catalan club’s management, which currently is without a President.

How the leak is welcomed by the man at the centre of it all could make or mar the efforts to keep him in Catalonia. The news is highly epochal that it could mark the end and the beginning of a new stage, with regards to what a new contract will look like if Messi decides to stay or if he thinks this is the last straw and finds himself a proper exit from La Blaugrana completely.

The crisis in the club is not helping and his efforts to create magic on the field of play are not what they used to be, yet no one will, on the basis of the facts, understate the immensity of his contribution to everything positive concerning Barca’s results. With his good vein of form, they have a real chance today to scale past Real Madrid to second place on goal difference, a reality that appeared impossible fairly recently.

Reactions from fans online have been divided but the majority agree on the facts. The mercurial talisman that Messi is means the income generated by the club from merchandising his name more than doubles the figures of his four-year-contract as leaked. Besides, the information, flawed or accurate, was disrespectful towards the player’s privacy and how it ended up on the front headlines is another question to find answers to.

With the cat out of the bag, it will not be too long before the fallout from these revelations begin to take shape. Barca will hope it does not bode ill for them in the midst of their present worries.