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Messi set to overtake Ronaldo as highest-paid player

ESPN staff
May 16, 2014 « Van Gaal: I'll make history at United | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Messi agrees to new contract

Lionel Messi has agreed terms on a new Barcelona contract which is set to see him overtake Cristiano Ronaldo as the world's highest-paid player.

Messi's current deal ends in June 2018 and contains a £204million (€250m) release clause. Those details are apparently set to remain unchanged, but Spanish newspaper El Pais claims he will receive a pay-rise from £10.6m (€13m) to £16.3m (€20m) a season, after tax.

Talks on an improved deal have been ongoing since last autumn, when it became clear that team-mate Neymar and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo were imposing on his status as the world's best-paid player.

While each player's contract will include different incentives and bonus structures, Ronaldo's annual salary is reported to be around £15m (€20m) net basic salary, although Real Madrid have never confirmed the figures.

Barcelona, under leadership duress as well as a legal investigation over taxes earlier this year, released details of Neymar's salary, which showed the Brazilian star earning a net £5.7m (€7m) annually before bonuses.

Wayne Rooney is the Premier League's highest-paid player © Getty Images
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Messi is set to see his weekly wage rise to just over £313,000 (€384,000) which would put him ahead of both Ronaldo and Real Madrid's record signing Gareth Bale, who reportedly earns around £300,000-a-week before tax.

Wayne Rooney signed a bumper new deal with Manchester United in January which allegedly earns him £300,000-a-week and makes him the Premier League's top earner, while Monaco's Radamel Falcao takes home every penny of his reported £11.4m salary (£219,000-a-week) because there is no tax in the principality.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic earns around £11.3m at Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain while Sergio Aguero was claimed to be the highest paid player in the Premier League (£11m annual salary) until Rooney signed his new deal.

As Barca's talks with Messi dragged on there was even speculation over recent months - dismissed last week by the Argentine himself as "crazy stuff" - that the board had considered putting the 26-year-old up for sale to use the £204m for a complete overhaul of the squad this summer.

Clubs including Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG, Bayern Munich and even Real Madrid were mentioned as possible new destinations for the four-time Ballon d'Or winner.

However, a statement on the club's official website on Friday morning read: "FC Barcelona has reached an agreement to adjust the terms in the contract binding Leo Messi to the club as a professional first team player. The revised and updated contract will be signed over the next few days."

Barca coach Gerardo Martino said the development was excellent for everyone at the Camp Nou. "These are matters that will help bring tranquility for Leo and for the club," Martino said ahead of his side's title-deciding clash with Atletico Madrid. "Obviously anything that is good for him is good for us. It will help him to bring us more on the pitch. Whatever is good for Leo is good for Barcelona."

Messi has scored 354 goals at Barcelona, including five straight seasons of at least 40.

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