When we read about football players and sports stars of the modern world, the money involved can seem eye-watering. The justification, though, is always in the way that the experts build it up. For example, Findbettingsites recently produced an infographic titled Real Time Soccer Earnings. Within this article, it showed that football legend Lionel Messi brings in around $12,000 in a single hour.
Naturally, such figures set off alarm bells in the minds of fans. Every single second, Messi is bringing in around $0.88. Across the hour, then, this makes up around $12,000. For Messi, the fact that he can earn the best part of a years wages for someone – $18,000 – in a single game of football says a lot about the present state of the finances in football.
Indeed, in a single month, the FC Barcelona and Argentina star will bring in a cool $9.1m. Keep in mind that the world record in the year that Messi was born, 1987, was that of Ruud Gullit. Deemed to be among the best players of all-time, the Dutchman made the move from PSV Eindhoven to the Italian giants of Milan.
When he arrived at the Rossoneri, it was for a fee of around £6m. Even adjusting for inflation and the like, the fee that Messi brings in on a single month blows away what was once deemed the biggest fee in the game. Football, though, has long had a unique history with an explosion in the fee of a football player.
This has often been driven by private and commercial investment, which has naturally left a negative impact on the sport of football. For example, from 1984 until 1992, the world record was always broken by an Italian team. From Napoli buying Diego Maradona from FC Barcelona for £5m in 1984 through to the signing of Gianluigi Lentini from Torino in 1992 for £13m, this set the precedent for the era that we now live in.
How does Messi compare to his rivals?
The challenge with this is that many see Messi as without a rival. For most people, though, the nearest to him is Cristiano Ronaldo. While very different players, the duo are easily the best of their own kind; Messi the technical genius, Ronaldo the personification of athleticism, bloody mindedness and self-development.
In terms of earning power, though, Ronaldo would have brought in around $8.85m from his time with Real Madrid. Next on the list would be former Barcelona teammate for Messi, Neymar Jr., who decided to move to Paris Saint-Germain. There, he earns a cool $7.3m.
Then, the last appears to take a wild drop down. Next on the list would be Gareth Bale, who brings in around $2.83m in a single month. It’s still an eye-watering sum of money, but it just shows you how much football has concentered on the ‘big two’ – and also why Neymar is valued so highly.
Why is Neymar Jr. so highly paid?
His club team, PSG, see him as the next in line to hold the title of best player in the world. When Messi and Ronaldo retire, the Brazilian could have a clear run at being the best player in the world. As such, PSG want him to be the face of their project – and were happy to make the financial sacrifice needed to make it so.
They pushed for the deal as they also saw that acquiring him from Barcelona would pass the message on that the Parisians are so serious about their future at the top of the European game. The fact that Neymar is the only player who even comes close to the earning power of Messi and Ronaldo – and the added bonus of being the all-time record transfer fee holder – means there’s obvious faith that Neymar can live up to the massive hype.
One of the main changes in the world of football, though, has stemmed from the change in the way that signings are handled. With Neymar, the aim was to make a power play: with Messi, though, his earnings are simply so high that nobody could realistically afford to match his earnings.
Could Messi ever leave Barcelona?
For money? It’s unlikely. The fact he is the highest paid player in the world, and plays for the club who made him as a player, means an exit is very unlikely. For Messi, the only clubs who could afford him would likely not appeal.
While both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have changed massively and are now major European sides, they probably lack the historical appeal for Messi. They could probably get as close to anyone to matching his wages – but even then, could they?
Financial Fair Play rulings in UEFA means it would be very hard for either club to be able to make the investment affordable. The only other option, then, would be to leave Europe. But where could he go?
The Asian leagues of China and Japan are awash with money. Japan is the more prestigious league of the two, and the presence of former teammates in Andres Iniesta and David Villa could make that possible. However, it’s unlikely to ever happen. So, too, would be a move to the United Sates as part of the Major League Soccer package. He’d likely be unattainable for any club in the United States both in terms of finance and the sporting project.
The only club in the world lucky enough to maybe be able to get to Messi, then, would be Newell’s Old Boys. The Argentinian giants are his boyhood and hometown club. Money would likely never become an issue – Messi could probably buy the club if he wanted now, such is his salary.
However, the prestige of playing for ‘his’ club would likely top any financial incentives that could be offered by the ideas above. Messi, frankly, earns so much and plays at such a high level that the only chance of him wearing a shirt outside of Barcelona or Argentina would be a move to Newell’s.
For now, though, we’re sure his other worldly talents and earning potential will suffice.