What's next for Lionel Messi? A record breaking career in pictures

Lionel Messi on Tuesday shook the footballing world as the Argentine Maestro officially communicated to Barcelona that he wants to leave the club after spending over two decades in the Catalan club. While Barcelona have maintained that they want to keep Messi at all cost, the left-footed genius seems to have made his mind about taking up a new challenge elsewhere. 

As Messi looks to leave Barcelona, let us take a look at his career, interesting facts and figures, thus far. 
 

Journey started with Argentina’s Newell’s Old Boys

Messi was signed by Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys when he was eight years old and he went onto join their youth system. In 2000, Messi, 13, joined Barcelona from Newell’s Old Boys.

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Barcelona came calling

After impressing in the La Masia, Messi made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old in 2004 and went  on to win 34 trophies at Nou Camp. His current contract runs till June 2021. However, Barcelona captain has told the club that he wants to activate a release clause which allows him to leave this summer for free but the club states the clause expired on May 31, 2020. 

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Unstoppable Lionel Messi

Messi has been awarded the coveted Ballon d’Or and the European golden shoe for being the top scorer in the continent for a record six times.

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Lionel Messi’s massive contract

Messi's wage package at Barcelona according to Football Leaks: 60.395.769 euro basic yearly wages (£988.000 a week), £9.100.000 per year on image rights, £13.000.000 a year on possible bonuses plus signing on & loyalty fee (£120.000.000 over 5 years).

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Record breaking Messi

Messi has scored 438 goals including 36 hat-tricks for Barcelona, which is a club and La Liga record. 

  • Number of Ballon d'Or: 6
  • Number of goals scored in La Liga: 444
  • Record number of goals scored in one season in a major league: 50 (2011-2012)
  • All time top scorer for Argentina: 70 (2006-19)
  • Number of goals scored in a calendar year in all-competitions: 91 (2012) 
  • Number of goals scored in a season in all competitions: 73 (2011-2012)
     

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Megastar Lionel Messi

Messi was fifth on Forbes’ Celebrity 100, 2020 and is the third highest-paid athlete in the world. Forbes ranked messi first among athletes on their list of the 100 highest-earning celebrities of 2019, putting his income for the year at $127m (£98m), and fourth overall, making him the best-earning footballer and athlete in the world. He was $18m ahead of ronaldo and $22m ahead of neymar, the next athletes on the list.
 

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Lionel Messi: Sponsor magnet


Much like Ronaldo, Messi's many sponsorship deals are too numerous to list in their entirety but the most significant is with the makers of his boots. Their rivalry continues in the battle between Nike (Ronaldo) and Adidas (Messi) off the pitch.

A couple of months or so after Ronaldo signed a "long-term" deal with Nike in 2016 that is rumoured to be similar to the lifetime agreement penned by basketball star LeBron James - and potentially worth $1 billion – Messi did similar with Adidas. The exact terms were not disclosed, but reports in Spain suggest it will take him through at least until the end of his playing career.

Messi has also been part of prominent campaigns with Pepsi, Gillette and Turkish airlines. As part of their 2019 celebrity rich list, Forbes valued his endorsements at $35m (£27m) for that year in total.
 

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An end of an era?

An end of an era?

(Photograph:AFP)