Lionel Messi to receive €33m loyalty bonus even if he leaves Barcelona on free transfer 11 months ago

Lionel Messi to receive €33m loyalty bonus even if he leaves Barcelona on free transfer

Nice work if you can get it

Barcelona will have to pay Lionel Messi the remainder of his loyalty bonus, regardless of whether or not he stays at the club or leaves on a free transfer, according to ESPN.

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Messi signed a contract with the club in 2017 that awarded him a €66m loyalty bonus, half of which was paid in February of this year. The Argentine superstar would have surrendered the other half of the bonus had his wish to leave been granted in the summer. But after his efforts came to nothing with the club insisting the matter would have to be settled in court, the club will have to pay him the remainder of the fee in the summer of 2021, when his contract ends, even if he walks away for free. Every cloud, and all that.

That contract also included "renewal bonuses" worth as much as €100m to be paid in instalments over the course of the four year contract, sources told ESPN.

There is precedent for this at Barça. Legendary midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta also received bonuses when they left the club in 2015 and 2018 respectively, but nowhere near the same amount of money as Messi is due to receive.

The timing could not be much worse for Barcelona, who are in such financial dire straights that they need to shift €170m from their wage bill in January. A number of big earners including Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez were sold in the summer to ease the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic but there is still more work to do.

The club are reportedly willing to sell four first team players in January to help balance the books, with Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembele, Junior Firpo and Carles Aleña all up for sale, according to reports.