Lionel Messi is an Argentine professional football player who plays for Spanish La Liga clubside FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Messi has won the FIFA world’s best player of the year award a record of 5 times, 4 of which he won consecutively. His incredible achievements in the world of football as well as his numerous endorsement deals have contributed to giving him a net worth estimated at $280 million which only increases by the year, making him one of the richest footballers in the world. As of 2016 his base salary with Barcelona is $44.7 million excluding winnings, making him the highest paid football player on the pitch by salary.
Messi Net Worth: How Lionel Messi Began His Career
Lionel Andrés “Leo” Messi was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. His passion for the game of football began at the early age of 4 when his greatest inspiration and fan was his maternal grandmother who went with him to every game. Celia as she was called later died prior to Messi’s 11th birthday. You know how the Barca star is always making the sign of the cross and looking up to the sky during his goal celebration? That is a tribute to his beloved grandmother.
6 year old Messi joined the Rosario-based youth club, Newell’s Old Boys where he began setting records and making history scoring almost 500 goals in 6 seasons. However, his early career wasn’t entirely swift, the promising starlet, at the age of 10, was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency which affected his growth giving him a smaller look compared to his peers. When their parent’s insurance expired and other Argentine clubs were unable to foot his medical bills, the family sought for help abroad.
First on their choice list was Barcelona as they had family in Catalonia. Fortunately, Charly Rexach, the first team director took immediate interest in him. Barca signed the young Messi following an ultimatum issued by his family.
The family moved to Barcelona in 2001 but the introverted Messi was soon left alone with his father and was often homesick after the rest of the family moved back to Rosario. Notwithstanding, the starlet quickly became outstanding in the youth team, the famous “Baby Dream Team” which included the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Gerrad Pique.
Messi Net Worth: Success With Barcelona
Lionel Messi made his first team debut for the Catalan giants at the age of 16 in November 2003 as a substitute in a friendly match against FC Porto. His impressive performance lead to the inking of his first professional contract in February 2004 which had a €80 million buyout clause. He also began training weekly with the first team side. His first senior team contract signed on his 18th birthday on 24 June 2005 increased his buyout clause to €150 million.
Messi’s early days as a starter with Barcelona were more often than not truncated by injuries, but at the start of the 2008/2009 season, the winger looked to have established a perfect rhythm which he has not only sustained but developed by the year. That season, Messi lead Barcelona to their first ever treble victory (La Liga, Super Cup and Champions League) and also received first FIFA Balon d’Or World Player of The Year Award at the age of 22. The Award was previously held by his perceived rival Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008.
His incredible performances for the next three seasons saw him bag the coveted award for a record of four consecutive times. After injuries marred his performance for two seasons, Ronaldo regained the award, (2013, 2014) Messi made the comeback in 2015 winning the award for the 5th time after leading Barcelona to a historic second treble victory.
For the 2011/2012 season, Messi became Barcelona’s all time highest goal scorer as well as the highest goal scorer in La Liga with over 300 goals. Messi has scored over 500 goals in his senior football career.
The Argentine has been equally successful with his national side. He became the youngest Argentine player to score in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Messi Net Worth: Salary And Endorsements
Beginning form 2008, Messi has been Barcelona’s highest paid player. The club continue to award his unmatched performance and loyalty by increasing his salary exponentially. Messi boosts his base salary with winning bonuses and lucrative endorsement deals which also increase in value according to his performance. His annual base salary of $44.7 million which he began receiving in 2015 is the highest earned by any player in the sport.
In 2016 Forbes estimated his annual earnings from all endeavors to be $81.5 million making him the second highest-paid athlete in the world behind Ronaldo. $28 million of that came from his numerous endorsement deals which include Adidas Gatorade, Audemars Piguet, Huawei, EA, Tata Motors and Gillette. Among these, the most valuable is with longtime partners Adidas which pay him an average of $10 million annually.
TAX EVASION SCANDAL
In July 2016 Messi and his father were both sentenced to 21 month in prison and ordered to pay fines of €1.7 million and €1.4 million respectively after being found guilty of tax evasion fraud. The tax evasion was related to sponsorship earnings from 2007 and 2009. Well, for a man who earns multi-millions annually, both fees combined looks like a chicken feed. Also the duo didn’t serve time behind bars, thanks to Spanish laws which pardons first offences under two years.