Lionel Messi: Barcelona Smart to Make Star Forward World's Highest-Paid Player

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 16:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring his sides third goal during the la Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium on December 16, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Lionel Messi has long been considered the best soccer player in the world, but now he's finally (and rightfully) getting paid like it. In case you missed the widespread news, FC Barcelona and their scintillating forward agreed to a two-year extension to his contract that will keep him in Camp Nou until 2018.

While that's obviously great news to Barcelona fans everywhere, it also means a hefty raise for Messi. According to Forbes' Agustino Fontevecchia, the 25-year-old star's extension, which is still yet to be signed, calls for him to become the highest-paid soccer player in the world:

FC Barcelona reached an agreement with the Argentine striker, signing him until 2018 and raising his base salary to €16 million net ($21.2 million), which will make him the highest on-the-pitch earner in soccer. 

Barcelona also made their investment known in a couple of other ways as well, specifically with Messi's buyout clause and the club's tax burden, per Fontevecchia: 

Barҫa is moving to secure their number one star’s presence in their squad, as evidenced by his prohibitive €250 million ($331.2 million) buyout clause and tax payments on his salary that reportedly totaled more than €20 million ($26.5 million).   

That's obviously a considerable investment. However, in terms of weighing the risk-reward factors and considering what Messi does for Barca, inking that deal was an absolute no-brainer.

First and foremost, it keeps Messi at Camp Nou essentially for the duration of his prime. Currently 25, the Argentinian sensation will be passing his 31st birthday when the contract ends, right around the time a marked decline should begin.

Until then, though, Barcelona will simply continue to reap the massive rewards from having the best player in the world. 

By now, Messi's resume speaks for itself. The goal-scoring marvel has his name plastered across the record books worldwide. He's the only player in history to win the Ballon d’Or, FIFA World Player, Pichichi trophy and Golden Boot in the same season, holds the record with 73 goals in a single season and jsut recently became the first player to top 90 goals in a calendar year.

That latter statistic broke a record that stood for 40 years and may only last one year before being broken again at this rate.

Messi stands to break his most impressive record of all on Jan. 7. It will likely be on that date that Messi wins his fourth straight Ballon d'Or, which would put him alone as having the most in the award's storied history.

Yes, even more than Diego Maradona.

With many years to come, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Messi will add to that record.

By locking Messi up, Barcelona ensures that he will do so at Camp Nou. The club and player have always had a special relationship dating back to Messi's childhood. It's the only senior club he's ever known. 

When Messi's contract expires in 2018, it will end his 18th year as a member of Barcelona, including youth play. To use an American sports comparison, Messi is the equivalent of what Derek Jeter means to the New York Yankees—if only Jeter hit 60 home runs per season. 

Keeping Messi was a no-brainer. It's a rare opportunity to act on sentimentality and common sense at the same time. Making Messi the highest-paid player in the world was simply a way for Barcelona to acknowledge all he has done for them and what he will do in the future. 

In today's sports world, that's something to be applauded.