Lionel Messi and His Millions: Why Footballers Deserve Their Money

Yoosof FarahSenior Writer IIIMarch 20, 2012

Lionel Messi: Like Many Footballers, The FC Barcelona Star Deserves His Money
Lionel Messi: Like Many Footballers, The FC Barcelona Star Deserves His MoneyJasper Juinen/Getty Images

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and the vast majority of players in world football deserve the money they earn.

Well, technically they don't from a moral standpoint, but in today's world dominated by consumer capitalism, they do.

There has been a lot of talk about money in football at the moment, revolving around players' salaries.

It has been revealed that FC Barcelona star Messi is the highest paid footballer in the world, with an annual personal income of £27.4 million.

His £250,000-a-week salary at Barca is supplemented by sponsorship and endorsement deals with brands like Pepsi and Adidas.

Meanwhile, Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie has been urged by some fans to leave the Gunners this summer, with the prospect of earning a £210,000-a-week salary at Manchester City.

Meanwhile, a consensus amongst football fans is that footballers in general are vastly overpaid.

Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov appears to share this view.

"I want to play [in] my last years," Berbatov told Sir Alex Ferguson. "I am uncomfortable...getting money, but [not] working."

Despite Berbatov's apprehensions, the truth of the matter is that most footballers earn the money they get.

What has to be remembered is that these players are the football clubs' product.

What they do on the pitch draws the fans in, attracts millions more to watch on TV and are the reasons club merchandise gets sold.

Plus, as players win matches as a group, they earn their employers more revenue through prize and sponsorship money, while the more success they bring the club, the more their employers can subsequently earn in sponsorship deals through a greater brand equity.

It's the same with investment bankers, who can generate huge capital for their banks and clients through corporate finance advisory, asset management, etc.

What also needs to be considered is that footballers, especially in the Premier League, only take home half of the headline figure on their pay slip.

The current 50p top tax rate in the UK (although that's set to go down to 45p, and possibly even 40p) means players like Yaya Toure, the Premier League's top earner (earning £220,000-a-week), has £440,000 deposited into his bank account every month, with the other £440,000 given in tax to the UK government.

And in Spain, the likes of Messi and Ronaldo will pay 56p to the pound in tax.


In essence, these big footballer salaries are a great help to a nation's tax revenue, and the left over money they have can potentially be the perfect antidote to boost economic growth.

So it's footballers' money, deservedly earned given what they generate for their employers, which helps society in general—although often not in ways that are clearly visible.

In any case, football isn't even the worst sport for incredibly high salaries.

In NBA Basketball, 15 players were in Forbes' list of the world's highest paid athletes.

LA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant earns around $53 million (£33.4 million) a year, while Miami Heat forward LeBron James earns $48 million (£30.3 million), both more than Lionel Messi.

And in the list of the largest sports contracts in history, only two footballers, Messi and Ronaldo, appear.

So while we can all agree from a moral viewpoint that footballers somewhat unfairly earn more than doctors, nurses, surgeons, etc, for what they provide to their employers, these athletes do realistically deserve the money they receive.