The 2018-19 season was the first that Lionel Messi assumed full duties of being captain of Barcelona after Andres Iniesta left the club.
The Argentina forward become the best-paid player in La Liga in November 2017 by agreeing a new deal to extend his stay at Barcelona until 2021.
Despite underwhelming performances at international level with Argentina, Messi remains a talisman in Barcelona.
But exactly how much is Messi worth now? While it’s difficult to get an exact figure, we can accumulate plenty of information from what has been reported and compare his earnings to his rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s net worth is estimated to be around £309m ($400m) as of 2020. These figures are speculative, though, especially as his business interests tend not to be widely publicised.
Forbes ranked Messi first among athletes on their list of the 100 highest-earning celebrities of 2019, putting his income for the year at $127m (£98m), and fourth overall, making him the best-earning footballer and athlete in the world. He was $18m ahead of Ronaldo and $22m ahead of Neymar, the next athletes on the list.
The Barcelona forward’s latest salary package will certainly keep him among the richest active sportsmen on the planet over the next few years.
Messi’s latest contract is reportedly worth a net £500,000 ($610k/€565k) a week.
Before signing this deal, Messi was estimated to be on around £336,000 ($410k/€397k) a week.
Ironically, Messi has Neymar to thank for his new and improved terms. His departure to Paris Saint-Germain not only brought Barca a massive windfall but also took his wages off the books.
Before that – when club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was insisting a deal had been agreed despite the fact that it had not been signed – Barca had admitted that Messi’s new salary would take their wage spending above what is generally recommended by UEFA.
“The LFP and UEFA make recommendations but nobody sets a salary cap,” Bartomeu said. “We are above what is recommended but the important thing is to be sustainable. We can afford it.”
Much like Ronaldo, Messi’s many sponsorship deals are too numerous to list in their entirety but the most significant is with the makers of his boots. Their rivalry continues in the battle between Nike (Ronaldo) and Adidas (Messi) off the pitch.
A couple of months or so after Ronaldo signed a “long-term” deal with Nike in 2016 that is rumoured to be similar to the lifetime agreement penned by basketball star LeBron James – and potentially worth $1 billion – Messi, lo and behold, did similar with Adidas. The exact terms were not disclosed, but reports in Spain suggest it will take him through at least until the end of his playing career.
Messi has also been part of prominent campaigns with Pepsi, Gillette and Turkish Airlines. As part of their 2019 celebrity rich list, Forbes valued his endorsements at $35m (£27m) for that year in total.
Part of Messi’s appeal, of course, is his image as a pure footballer who takes little interest in the lavish lifestyle available to him off the field. His apparent lack of desire to branch out into other ventures and create a personal brand has in some ways become a brand in itself, and is attractive to sponsors.
But while Messi does not push lines of underwear, shoes and fragrances like Ronaldo, he has invested in property. Around his birthplace of Rosario in Argentina, for example, he has put money into the Azahares del Parana project (a set of gated communities out of the city) as well as an apartment building in the city centre.
There’s almost certainly much more than that, but – as tends to be the case with Messi – it is kept pretty private.
As is the case with his business interests, Messi’s charity work is considerable but tends to be focused through sources and ventures he trusts.
He has his own organisation, the Leo Messi Foundation, which he asked for donations to instead of wedding gifts when he married long-term partner Antonella Roccuzzo.
The initiatives Messi backs are generally related to vulnerable children and their healthcare, and he was appointed an ambassador for Unicef in 2010 having worked with them since 2004.
Messi boasts extremely popular Facebook and Instagram pages but is not on Twitter, save for a ‘Team Messi’ account created by sponsors Adidas.
He does, however, play second fiddle to Ronaldo when it comes to social media presence. Messi has the second-most popular Facebook page among athletes of any sport, with 90 million likes, and is the third-most followed male personality on Instagram (152 million) after Ronaldo and Dwayne Johnson.
Ronaldo, for comparison, has 122 million Facebook likes and 220 million followers on Instagram.