Since his 2004 debut with Barcelona of Spain's first division -- one of the elite soccer teams in the world -- Lionel Messi has been a global star. In addition to winning his first league championship in the 2005-2006 season, Messi has collected an impressive set of individual awards, including being named "World Player of the Year [later the FIFA Ballon d'Or] award four times in four years," according to ESPN.
He has also won 21 major titles, according to the team's website:
- six Ligas
- three Champions Leagues
- two Spanish Cups
- two Clubs World Cups
- two European Supercups
- six Spanish Supercups
Messi has also already become the top goal scorer of all time for Barcelona, and has been a leader of the national team of his native Argentina. "Messi is my Maradona," said soccer legend Diego Maradona, as the head coach of the Argentine national team in 2010, the Sports Leader reported.
Not only has the star player amassed a fortune due to his prowess on the field, he has also become an endorsement star appearing in ads for Adidas, Pepsi, Gillette, and Electronic Arts. And though he still has quite a bit of career ahead of him, Messi has already become one of the richest athletes in the world.
He makes a lot of money on the field
Unlike the National Football League, National Hockey League, and the National Basketball Association -- which have salary caps -- and Major League Baseball -- which taxes payrolls above a certain threshold -- La Liga, the Spanish top-tier soccer league where Messi plays, has no restrictions holding down player salaries. That has allowed its stars, Messi included, to sign incredibly lucrative deals.
Though La Liga salaries are not public, Messi's deal "is expected to slightly exceed [Cristiano] Ronaldo's $50 million annual salary with Real," according to Forbes. That's an increase over the $41 million a year his last contract paid him. Messi has signed seven contracts with Baecelona in his 11 years with the club, and the new deal reportedly lasts through 2018.
He's big off the field, too
As one of the most recognizable athletes in the parts of the world where soccer is called football -- pretty much everywhere except the U.S. -- Messi is in high demand as an endorser. In 2014, he was ranked No. 45 on Forbes' list of Most Powerful Celebrities; the magazine estimated his endorsement earnings that year at $23 million.
Only Floyd Mayweather, Ronaldo, and Lebron James were ahead of Messi on the 2014 Forbes list of the highest-paid athletes. With his new contract, the Barcelona star may have pulled ahead of Ronaldo in 2015. In addition to his signature shoes with Adidas, Messi also endorses the FIFA soccer game for EA, and Pepsi's signature soda, as well as its Frito-Lay line of snack chips.
What is Lionel Messi's net worth?
Though Messi has made $40 miliion-$50 million a year (or slightly more) for the last few years, he pays about half of that in taxes. He has run afoul of Spanish authorities over allegations of trying to avoid taxes. Messi and his father, who was implicated in the case, have paid quite dearly to settle them (and perhaps avoid jail) ESPN FC reported:
Since news of the issue broke over the summer of 2013, the Messis have reportedly paid 5m euros to the authorities, to cover money owed from the 2007 to 2009 period, plus interest. They are also believed to have paid 10m euros in taxes due on such income for the years 2010 and 2011.
Despite those hefty penalties, CelebrityNetWorth estimates Messi has a net worth of $180 million. TheRichest.com, another site which calculates celebrity fortunes, estimated Messi's net worth at the same number, offering a breakdown of his income during his career.
Those numbers track with Messi's earnings, but the reality could vary greatly as he does not make his investments or expenditures public. Since those numbers are not available, Messi's net worth could differ, but the number above is a reasonable guess based on public information.