The big news coming out of Spanish football this past weekend has centred around Lionel Messi.

On Friday, he took delivery of his fourth Golden Shoe award for yet another sensational goal scoring campaign. That it brought him level with Cristiano Ronaldo in that respect is completely incidental.

Sunday’s instalment was the most controversial, after his perfectly legitimate goal wasn’t given by La Liga officials who somehow missed the ball being at least a yard over the line. VAR can’t come soon enough it seems.

However, it was on Saturday that the biggest news of all broke, and not before time.

Before the official announcement that Messi had finally put pen to paper on his bumper new contract, Barça’s twitchy fan-base will have awoken to the realisation that their club had just 36 days to tie Messi down again before he was free to talk to other clubs.

They needn’t have worried.

For once, the party line from the club was proved to be correct. President Josep Maria Bartomeu had said for weeks that Messi had not only already agreed terms, but had been playing under them since the summer. All that was missing was the official photo.

Given that it takes five minutes to sign the paperwork and pose for photographs, this could’ve been done at any point, so the fact that it came a day after the Golden Shoe awards evidences a carefully planned and expertly orchestrated campaign by the club.

Now that the ‘noise’ surrounding Messi’s future can die down, what does it actually mean for the club?

Firstly, there’s a commitment to providing their No.10 with a weekly salary of €559,000 – making him the best paid player in the world. Then there’s a €50 million signing on bonus that has been agreed.

Though not widely circulated, there will absolutely be various other inducements for winning trophies etc.

In short, Barcelona have broken the bank to keep their best ever player in situ until he reaches the ripe old age of 34.

Indeed, by that time he will have earned €733m in salary, bonuses and endorsements, since he made his debut at the club as a 17-year-old.


The club have always maintained that they can afford the new terms but Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain has loosened the burden somewhat.

Say what you like about the Brazilian’s departure, but you can be assured the money men at the club have a less furrowed brow now than they did in the early part of the summer.

The arguments as to whether Messi is worth the spend have, predictably, already started too.

If one measures success in silverware, then the thirty titles in 13 years that La Pulga has won – to include four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns – would suggest that, in fact, Barca are getting themselves a bargain.

The club have been defined by the little wizard for the last decade, his output and consistency reminiscent of players from a bygone era.

If they want the best, then there is an associated cost, but in years to come his earnings are unlikely to be a bone of contention.

There’ll just be an appreciation of what a priceless player he’s been.


Odds are correct at the time of posting

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