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1 Feb, 2021 09:16

‘Give him a pay rise’: Messi hits incredible free-kick to reach new Barcelona milestone amid outcry over €555mn contract

‘Give him a pay rise’: Messi hits incredible free-kick to reach new Barcelona milestone amid outcry over €555mn contract

Just hours after revelations emerged regarding his mammoth Barcelona contract, Lionel Messi proved again why he is valued quite so highly as the Argentine ace scored a trademark free-kick to reach a new milestone for the Catalans.

Messi curled a stunning strike over a five-man wall and into the top corner to put Barcelona 1-0 ahead in the 20th minute of their La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, registering his 650th goal in Barca colors.

While a Jordi Alba own-goal leveled the scores just after half-time, a winner from Antoine Griezmann in the 74th minute gave Barcelona all three points at the Nou Camp.

The result moved Ronald Koeman’s team up to second in the La Liga table, ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference but 10 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid – who also have a game in hand.

Much of the talk leading up to Sunday’s game had been on the staggering details of the contract Messi penned with Barcelona in 2017.

Revealed by Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the four-year deal is said to be worth up to €555 million ($673 million) for the Argentine ace, and is believed to be the biggest ever signed by an athlete.

Also on rt.com Messi money: Uproar as newspaper investigation claims superstar striker’s huge contract is worth $673MN – half of Barcelona’s debt

Controversy raged over the bumper outlay sanctioned by a club which is now reported to be more than €1 billion in debt, and both Barcelona and Messi have said they will take legal action against El Mundo for publishing the contract details.

However, after Messi’s latest free-kick masterclass, observers including former Barca and England star Gary Lineker joked that the 33-year-old was in line for a pay rise.

Speculation continues over Messi’s plans for the future, with his current deal at Barcelona up at the end of the season.

The Argentine was forced to abort his plans to walk away from the Nou Camp last summer, and this season the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City will be circling to lure the six-time Ballon d’Or winner away from Spain.

Considering the jaw-dropping numbers behind Messi’s last deal at Barcelona and the financial constraints caused by Covid, the star number 10 will inevitably have to reduce his pay packet wherever he ends up playing his football next season.   

Also on rt.com Net returns: Football icon Lionel Messi’s contract is not worth a fraction of the drama his departure from Barcelona would cause