The masses might argue over who the best player in the world is, but one area in which Cristiano Ronaldo will remain superior to Lionel Messi for the foreseeable future is on his bank balance.
This summer saw the Real Madrid wonder pen a five-year contract extension at the Bernabeu, which included a pay rise that ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan says is worth more than €20 million per year.
With that deal, Ronaldo assumed his place as the most handsomely paid footballer on the planet, trumping the salary that Messi rakes in, which Corrigan adds is worth €12.5 million per year.
Barcelona vice-president Javier Faus recently told Catalonia Radio (h/t ESPN's Corrigan) that the club see no need to offer their superstar another deal already, with Ronaldo's wages apparently of no concern to La Blaugrana:
"I do not know why we have to do it again. We do not have to improve a contract every six months,” Faus said.
Faus is correct in that the salary of any individual outside the club shouldn't matter when it comes to Barcelona's own players, especially when the star in question still has four-and-a-half years left to run on his current contract.
Infostrada Sports adds some information on one very particular Messi contract clause:
Messi has a buy-out clause of €250m in his contract. Real have paid €194m for Bale + Cristiano Ronaldo.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) October 26, 2013
What may come as a surprise, however, is not that Messi no longer has La Liga's most lucrative luxury, but he may not even be the highest earner in Gerardo Martino's Barca squad.
Corrigan goes on to say that Neymar's deal at the Camp Nou is worth a basic salary of around €7 million per year on top of the €2 million in performance-based bonuses he can receive.
On top of that, it's then reported that €40 million of the Brazilian's transfer fee was reportedly shared amongst the forward and his family, which could bring his pay packet to over €13 million for the length of his contract.
The key for Barca is that they ensure contracts do not land the club in financial difficulty. They haven't got to their current status by being overly frivolous with their cash, and only if Messi starts to show genuine concern should the club even consider another deal.
Even then, the question has to be raised over what €20 million per year can buy you that €12.5 million doesn't? Other than status and self-gratification, two character traits not associated with Messi, there is little to be gained by the Argentine demanding to be paid as much as Ronaldo.
The professional sportsman's contract has become an item of withering significance in recent years, deals used more frequently as bargaining chips than as genuine statements of loyalty among some.
At least for now, Messi will have to contend with the thought of being No. 2 or perhaps even No. 3 in these particular stakes, a feeling he undoubtedly won't be very used to.