This summer Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi blew up the transfer market. Transitions of this magnitude do not often happen (the Argentine has played for Barcelona throughout his entire career). Still, both main stars of the last 15 years have replaced the team in one transfer window.
Now the story has been supplemented with an interesting nuance. After moving from Juventus to Manchester United, Forbes reported that Ronaldo climbed to the first line in the ranking of the highest-paid football players in the world. This season, his total income should be € 106.6 million, while Messi, who moved to PSG, will receive a total of € 93.8 million. These amounts include money from sponsors, bonuses, and other sources. But let’s focus on the salaries of the forwards and remember how much they received in the past.
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Ronaldo began his career with Sporting, who raised him. Cristiano’s first contract in the Lisbon club was modest: the future owner of five Ballons of Gold earned only € 350,000 a year. Things went uphill in the summer of 2003, after being transferred to Manchester United. Under the very first agreement, he received a sixfold increase – up to € 2.09 million.
By 2007, Ronaldo had become one of the main stars of the Premier League and all world football. Manchester United understood that Cristiano deserved more, so they rushed to extend his contract for five years. Under the terms of the new agreement, the Portuguese’s salary increased to € 7.2 million per year.
At the end of 2008, Ronaldo received his first Ballon d’Or, and the following summer fulfilled his dream by moving to Real Madrid. There he received a six-year contract with unusual conditions. In the first season, Cristiano was supposed to earn € 11 million, and in the future, the salary would increase by 25 percent annually. Thus, in the 2010/2011 season, the Portuguese were paid € 13.75 million, in the next – € 17 million, and then – almost € 21.5 million. At this, the attraction of generosity stopped, and in September 2013, Ronaldo signed a new contract for five years with a salary of almost € 17.5 million (the bonuses were good).
Ronaldo had to wait three years for the next contract with Real Madrid. In November 2016, the parties nevertheless signed a new contract. It was designed for three seasons and provided a salary of € 22 million. Until the end, the Portuguese did not work out his last agreement in Madrid. In the summer of 2018, he moved to Juventus and signed a contract for four seasons. In Italy, the striker immediately began to receive € 32.5 million per year. Unlike previous clubs, here Cristiano cost one contract and left a year before its expiration.
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Ronaldo returned to Manchester United this summer. Despite his age (36 years old), he became the highest-paid player in the team and the entire Premier League. At Juventus, Cristiano received more, but € 29 million is still a lot. For example, teammates Paul Pogba, David de Gea, and Edinson Cavani earn less.
Now about Messi. His situation is more complicated since no information about his first earnings at Barcelona could be found. But the general picture is clear, and most importantly, the numbers reach truly insane proportions in this case.
So, Messi signed his first professional contract in February 2004. By the summer of 2005, Barcelona realized that they had a diamond in their hands. The agreement was quickly extended with Leo until 2010, but another point is interesting: a compensation of € 150 million was added to the agreement, although the Argentine was only 18 years old.
Then something unique began. Just three months later, in September 2005, Barcelona signed a new contract with Messi until the summer of 2014 (!). The media then wrote that Leo’s salary had doubled. The conclusion of the following agreement took place in March 2007, and here the figures are already known. The Argentinian began to earn € 5.2 million per season, but the term remained the same – it seems that there was nowhere to extend.
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In July 2008, Messi signed another contract. It is assumed that even then, he became the highest-paid player at Barça, but there is no confirmation of this. Traditions cannot be violated, so a year later, Leo renewed the agreement with the Catalans. The new contract, signed in September 2009, was for seven years (until 2016). The compensation amount was increased to € 250 million.
After that, there was a long break. Messi signed his next contract with Barcelona in 2013. The agreement was designed for five years. In May 2014, Leo’s future at Barça was in doubt due to the team’s results (not a single trophy per season), but the problem was quickly resolved by giving the player an improved contract. The deadline remained the same – until the summer of 2018.
In 2015, Messi fell out with Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique, but the conflict was resolved, and the team took the treble. The calm did not last long. A year later, the club worried that Leo would leave due to tax problems. As you know, the Argentinians stayed.
Messi signed his last contract with Barcelona in 2017. The agreement was for four years. The critical point is the conditions. As the media managed to find out only this year, they turned out to be beyond good and evil. “The contract that destroyed Barcelona – everything is clear from the title. If you believe this data, Leo received € 138 million per season, and the total amount under the agreement was € 555 million. But that’s not all. For signing the contract, the Catalans paid Messi € 115 million, and the forward received another € 77 million as a loyalty bonus. It is not surprising that the six-time winner of the Ballon d’Or was the highest-paid footballer and kept Ronaldo out for many years.
L’Equipe recently announced that under a contract with PSG, Messi would earn about € 30 million per season + € 15 million each year as a loyalty bonus. The sports director of Parisians Leonardo said that “the numbers are far from reality” but refused to name the terms of the agreement with the 34-year-old Argentine. Who will we believe?