Lionel Messi doesn’t do it for the money.
Barcelona’s superstar striker could’ve said, “Screw it. I’m the best. I deserve to get paid like I’m the best,” and spurned the Spanish football club for Anzhi Makhachkala of Russia.
Fox Sports reported that Messi was offered a five-year deal that would’ve paid him €560,000 per week and €30 million annually. If he had decided to head east, Messi would’ve been the highest paid footballer on the planet.
In September, Marca reported that eight players had richer contracts than him. And while Guy Aspin of the Daily Mail confirmed that the Barca star had recently agreed to an extension, the expected £12.5million a year plus bonuses still don’t approach what he would’ve made in Russia.
Messi doesn’t care, though. He stayed faithful to his contract, loyal to Barcelona and prioritized winning over cash. That isn’t surprising, though, considering he just displayed the same priorities in a huge way earlier this December.
According to the Associated Press, Messi downplayed the importance of his world record for most goals scored in a calendar year after he broke it a few weeks ago. He said (via Newsday): “The record is nice, but the important thing is the win that keeps us on the patch we want to continue on.”
As selfless as Messi has acted through his success this season, though, just one season ago, he was accused of being the exact opposite. Alexander Netherton of ESPN went as far as to call him a selfish egotist.
It’s kind of difficult to support that claim now.
The 25-year-old Argentine phenom has Barcelona on top of the Spanish La Liga table with a record of 16-1-0, with a nine-point lead over Atletico and 16 over Real Madrid. Even with plenty of season remaining, with Messi’s eyes dead set on the prize, it’s difficult to imagine Barca blowing it.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.