Lionel Messi’s ‘signing bonus’ for staying at Barcelona could be as high as a record-breaking £80million and the club hope to have a naming-rights sponsor for the Nou Camp as early as next season to help them pay for it. It is normal for clubs to add a signing-on fee or a renewal bonus in contracts but Messi’s – estimated to be between £79m and £85m – is believed to be the highest ever.
In a special report in Catalan paper L’Ara this week it was claimed Barcelona’s wage bill as a percentage of overall revenue is now at 84 per cent, up to £430m, although Messi’s contract sweetener is not included in that figure because it’s a bonus payment spread across the years of his new deal and not paid as part of his wage.
The deal that takes him to 2021 with the club has already been signed by his father Jorge and his brother Rodrigo but is still missing his signature. Messi has been reluctant to sit down with Barcelona’s under-fire president Josep Bartomeu and give him what would be a ‘vote of confidence’ opportunity. Messi is undecided as to whether November would be the right time to bring an end to speculation over his future. He could opt to sign the new deal with no photograph.
That would calm supporters’ nerves over the possibility of him negotiating with new clubs in January. But it would also mean the president does not get the opportunity to parade Messi’s signing as personal success. Meanwhile, the club’s chief executive Oscar Grau has been criticised for saying Barcelona have the money to sign Philippe Coutinho in January. Mundo Deportivo columnist Xavier Bosch said:
‘I understand that he wanted to send a positive message to supporters but when you want to go into the transfer market, saying public you have the money to sign Coutinho or anyone… Liverpool must be rubbing their hands together.’