Lionel Messi will become the highest-paid player in world football once the details of his new contract are finalised, according to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The Argentine international still has four years remaining on his current deal but, in an interview with Agence France-Presse (h/t Yahoo! Sport), Bartomeu revealed Messi's new salary will surpass that of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid:
We are in the midst of the season, so it is not the moment to be negotiating with him, but it is the moment to talk to the agents and with his father and that is what we are doing.
We will talk with them about how we see the player. He is our star and he has a contract until 2018 because we want him to participate in our future, but there is the will within the club that he becomes the best paid player in the world. He is the number one and, as we have said various times, he also deserves to be the best paid player in the world.
BBC Sport reported in September that, upon signing his new terms at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo was expected to be earning a new annual wage of around €17 million (£14.25 million).
Of course, salary is in no way a direct correlation of a player's ability or true value to a team on the pitch, but there is a correlation between what their talents may be worth to the club, who are willing to fork out such vast sums in order to preserve their loyalties.
Upon signing his new £300,000-a-week deal at Manchester United in February, per BBC Sport, Wayne Rooney also joined that elite hierarchy of world-football earners, taking him close to the aforementioned La Liga duo.
Bartomeu also addressed the notion that Messi would be leaving the Camp Nou in the near future, delivering a short but certain answer:
Here there is no doubt. Leo Messi arrived here as a 13-year-old and is now 26, soon to be 27. You see how he plays, he is a decisive player and has led all the success Barca has had over the past few years. That is why he has a contract until 2018 and there are no disagreements.
There is only an enormous desire, both from the player and the club to reach an agreement. We will get there and we will get there calmly. We are sure we will reach a deal with Messi, we are convinced because it is his wish too. He said so just a few days ago. We will have Leo Messi at Barcelona for many years to come.
Messi's negotiations come on the back of yet more record-breaking form for the diminutive star.
Netting a hat-trick in the 4-3 win over Real Madrid last weekend, the forward became the highest-ever scorer in El Clasico, per the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel, just a week after breaking Barcelona's all-time scoring record with his 371st goals for the club.
Squawka shows just how profound the player's performance was in such a high-stakes atmosphere against Real Madrid:
Lionel Messi's El Clasico in numbers: 3 goals, 6 shots, 4 key passes, 1 assist, 1 take-on, 100% tackles won, 88% pass completion rate.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 23, 2014
Those three goals also saw Messi skip past Hugo Sanchez to take second place in La Liga's all-time top-scorer list with 236 to his name, Telmo Zarra's No. 1 spot now within sight at 252 goals.
101 Great Goals posted an infographic that details precisely whom Messi has enjoyed scoring against most:
In an age where we as a football community rely so heavily on facts, figures and data, these are some numbers that genuinely go a long way in justifying exactly why Barcelona may look to repay their striker quite so handsomely.
And all this comes in a time where Gerardo Martino's side looked as though they were just beginning to lose their grip in the Spanish title race, only to be pulled right back into the mix thanks largely to Messi's brilliance.