Messi and Barcelona May Part Ways After 17 Years

    • Lionel Messi can sign with any team in any league starting in June, and it is possible he has played his last game for Barcelona.
    • The superstar is among the richest and most recognizable athletes in the world.

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Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona have been together for 17 years, but the relationship between soccer’s biggest star and most valuable team could be coming to an end.

Messi signed his current four-year deal in 2017, worth a reported $673.8 million. For context, Patrick Mahomes has the richest contract in NFL history — a 10-year, $450 million deal.

Come June, the 33-year-old will be free to sign elsewhere. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are known to have their eyes on the very expensive superstar.

  • Messi was second on Forbes’ 2021 list of highest-paid athletes (behind Conor McGregor) with $97 million in salary and $33 million from his lifetime deal with adidas and other off-field earnings.
  • Barcelona edged out Real Madrid as the most valuable soccer team in the world at $4.76 billion, per Forbes.

Messi submitted a transfer request last year, after his relationship with team president Josep Maria Bartomeu soured. Bartomeu is accused of orchestrating a smear campaign against Messi and other players who were critical of the club. He resigned in October and, in March, was arrested in a case that appears related to that scandal.

Current Barca president John Laporta, who is optimistic he can retain the star, is preparing a two-to-three-year deal at a lower annual rate than Messi’s current salary.

Laporta is also looking to sign another top player, such as Neymar, to make the club more desirable to its longtime icon.