Lionel Messi in the money as highest paid player

Last updated 07:22 20/05/2014
Lionel Messi
Reuters
TOP DOLLAR: Lionel Messi has re-signed with Barcelona in a deal with an annual salary worth NZ$31.8m.

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Lionel Messi has signed a new contract with Barcelona that will reportedly make the four-times World Player of the Year football's best-paid player with a net annual salary of €20 million (NZ$31.8m).

In a statement the La Liga club said that ''Barcelona announces the signing of the agreement for the readjustment of Lionel Messi's (current) contract'' which was due to expire in June 2018.

The statement did not publish details of the deal, but Spanish media said the 26-year-old could earn around €5m (NZ$7.9m) more per season in performance-linked bonuses.

''I am happy to continue at my home like I have always said,'' Messi said via Twitter.

''The people of Barcelona are those that decide what do with my future and my choice is always to continue as long as I feel the support from them. If I didn't then I would look for a solution because I always want the best for this club.''

Barcelona failed to win any of the top trophies this season and Messi accepted that they have not been at their best.

''I can only say sorry everyone at Barcelona and promise that next year we will be back at the level this club deserves and we will achieve important things,'' he said.

Under the new contract the Argentina captain would also regain control of his image rights, one report said, further boosting the income of a man Forbes magazine estimated was the 10th highest-earning athlete, with annual revenues of US$41.2m (NZ$47.8m) including wages and endorsements.

Messi, who had been earning a net €13m (NZ$20.7m) per season, would top football's earnings list ahead of Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo on €18m (NZ$28.6m) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris St Germain on €14.7m (NZ$23.4m), sports daily Marca said.

Since Messi made his debut in the 2004-05 season, Barca have won 21 titles, including three Champions Leagues and six La Liga crowns.

He joined Barca's academy at the age of 13 after a spell at Newell's Old Boys in his native Rosario.

Messi and his father last year paid €5m (NZ$7.9m) to the Spanish authorities as a ''corrective payment'' after they were accused of filing false tax returns.

The pair, who both denied wrongdoing, allegedly hid more than four million euros by filing incomplete returns for the years 2006 to 2009.

The sale of Messi's image rights had been hidden using a complex web of shell companies in Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, the prosecutor's office for tax crimes in Catalonia said.

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