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12 Aug, 2021 15:24

Lionel Messi joins cryptocurrency craze by being paid part of PSG signing bonus in fan tokens, club confirms

Lionel Messi joins cryptocurrency craze by being paid part of PSG signing bonus in fan tokens, club confirms

Football superstar Lionel Messi has joined the "crypto craze" by being paid part of his hefty PSG signing on fee in fan tokens when committing to the Ligue 1 giants on a two-year deal this week, as confirmed by the club.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner ended his two-decade association with FC Barcelona after the Catalans admitted defeat in being unable to navigate strict La Liga salary cap rules last Thursday evening.

This immediately allowed PSG to open negotiations with the Argentine, whose father and agent Jorge hashed out the particulars with the Qatari-backed outfit over the weekend before the Messi clan landed in the French capital on Tuesday.

Reports from the likes of L'Equipe claimed that Messi will receive around $47 million per season at the Parc Des Princes, but further details of his arrangement are now beginning to emerge.

Confirming as much to Reuters, PSG said on Thursday that fan tokens were included in the 34-year-old's "welcome package" rumored to total anything between $29-35 million dollars, but did not specify the amount of tokens in it besides saying it was "significant".

The cryptocurrency allows holders to have a vote on minor decisions that relate to the clubs they support, with Premier League holders Manchester City launching their own this year and Messi's ex-employers FC Barcelona preceding them in 2020. 

Leading companies such as Socios.com, who provide fan tokens to PSG and rival top sides, claim that $200 million has been generated through them for partner clubs in 2021, and Messi's new team have already seen some revenue come in after his capture. 

PSG refused to confirm whether they had taken half of a $35 million sum of new sales, but did state there were high volumes of fan token trading to the tune of over $1.2 billion after reports emerged that Messi was ready to make a dramatic switch to don their number 30 shirt.

"We have been able to engage with a new global audience, creating a significant digital revenue stream," their chief partnerships officer Marc Armstrong said to Reuters.

Previously down to $40, PSG's token soared over 130% across just five days when speculation grew on Messi's arrival, and to over $60 when he was officially unveiled yesterday.

"I believe this could be the start of a new trend as fan tokens and Socios.com play an increasingly prominent role across sport at the very highest level," said the site's CEO Alexandre Dreyfus, who believes PSG reaped the benefits from its token while other clubs could follow their lead and imitate the makeup of Messi's signing bonus.

Already putting his face on Qatar Airways advertising material, it is hoped by PSG that the forward's mere presence will go a long way towards paying his wages despite urban myths that just shirt sales alone will suffice.