Tuesday, 28 November 2023

S Sports

Barcelona to hand Messi £80 m bonus

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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. Barca are hopeful of announcing a new Nike deal next year as they try to further boost revenue to meet the wages and bonuses bill and the Nou Camp could have a sponsor’s name added to it for the new season.

The club could put the potential new sponsor’s name to directors and supporters at the start of the new year. Any deal would involve a brand name being attached to the club’s stadium for the next 25 years and raise up to £179m. Because of Messi’s hat-trick against Ecuador this week Argentina will not need to play a World Cup qualifier in November. They may still organise friendlies for next month but there is an increased chance that Messi will have a potential window of opportunity to sign his new £500,000-per-week contract in the next international break. 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.’

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