Mirror Online: LONDON, England – The full magnitude of Lionel Messi’s half-a-billion-pound contract at Barcelona has been laid bare by documents released in the Spanish press.
Since penning his new contract, the Argentine has been appointed Barcelona captain and clinched a record sixth Ballon d’Or.
There has been on-pitch success too, with Barcelona winning La Liga in 2018 and 2019 – but things have taken a turn for the worse over the last 12 months.
Barca have sacked two managers in that time and the recent release of their financial statements shows they are in a staggering £1.1billion of debt.
Years of overspending and financial mismanagement were only made worse by the coronavirus outbreak last season, and El Mundo claims Barca must pay back £236million by the end of June or face bankruptcy.
On Sunday, the newspaper dealt another blow to the Catalan giants by releasing the eye-watering details of Messi’s contract with the club.
El Mundo published a redacted copy of the contract Messi signed with former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu just over three years ago.
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The document shows the deal is worth an astonishing total of €555,237,619 (£491m) when base salary, image rights, bonuses and many other variables are taken into account.
It is believed Messi has already been paid 92 per cent (£452m) of that sum despite missing out on certain lucrative bonuses in recent seasons – especially in the Champions League.
The contract works out at €133million (£122m) per season, while Messi was handed a renewal bonus of €115,225,000 (£102m) simply for putting pen to paper. His loyalty bonus was set at €77,929,955 (£69m).
With Barcelona in crippling debt, it appears highly unlikely they will be able to afford to table a contract extension to keep Messi beyond this summer.
There is already widespread speculation the Catalans will need to sell players in a bid to balance their books.