Spanish Inquisition: Are Barcelona Getting Value For Money With Lionel Messi?

As Argentina’s finest wins a new and lucrative contract with the Blaugrana,’s Anthony Wright wonders if it really is all about the money…
At 22 years of age, Lionel Messi is already one of the world’s top earners, European conquistador, Spanish champion, UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, Olympic hero… the list is endless. Just how much better can he get?

Last year, Messi contributed 38 goals and 18 assists in all competitions, but the mercurial Argentine still has more to give Barcelona. His new contract, worth an estimated €12 million per season for a further seven years, makes him one of the biggest earners in world football. Of course, his status as the club’s top earner had been taken by Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the summer, thereby necessitating a new deal for Messi.

His minimum fee release clause was barely needed. The elite football clubs currently operate in a financial galaxy of their own, far apart from the world’s recession, but even Real Madrid president Florentino Perez or the Middle Eastern owners at Manchester City would struggle to cobble together €250m for one player.

However, Joan Laporta’s club are about to pay out €84m over the course of seven years to keep Messi at the club. Although he is arguably the world’s best player and deserving of the tag of ‘highest earner’ at his club, is this also a publicity stunt by Laporta?

The World's Top Earners - Value For Money?

More than anything else, Florentino Perez craves attention for his club. Lavish barely describes his fanatical spending spree this summer – Perez spent almost as much in transfer fees as it costs to launch a space shuttle – but it succeeded in bringing the armchair fans rushing back to buy Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka replica shirts.

Whether it succeeds in bringing trophies is another matter. Ronaldo’s transfer fee of €96m eclipsed even the world record transfer, albeit a brief one, of Kaka at €65m, while the Portuguese is on an annual salary similar to Messi. By comparison, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Barcelona’s marquee signing, is on a paltry €9.5m every year after signing for €46m plus Samuel Eto’o.

With all this in mind, and Messi’s declaration that he wants to stay at Barcelona for life anyway, was his lucrative new deal ultimately necessary? Would the Blaugrana be doing themselves a favour if they had given him €10m, still making him the club’s highest earner, and saved themselves €14m in the process? Or has football reached the stage where such a sum is an adequate price to pay for a little more publicity.

Anthony Wright,