Photo by Micah Barrett
What’s the Messi Contract all about?
Lionel Messi is widely known as one of the greatest football players of his generation. While most professional soccer players retire in their early thirties, Messi at age thirty-six continues to make history on and off the field. His most recent groundbreaking action was moving to the United States to join Inter Miami. While Inter Miami could not offer Messi a three- year $1.6 billion dollar contract like Saudi Arabia, they could get creative and offer multiple revenue streams to make the offer appealing. In the end, the strategy worked as Messi is now in the MLS and already making history. Below are the various aspects of the Messi Inter Miami contract that brought the G.O.A.T. of soccer to the MLS:
Highest Salary in MLS
Lionel Messi is currently the highest paid MLS player in history making around $54 million per season. This is around $46 million more than then nearest MLS salary of $8.1 million for Xherdan Shaqiri of the Chicago Fire. Given how large his salary is compared to other MLS players and strict salary caps in place in the MLS it took a lot of maneuvering from Inter Miami to afford Messi at $54 million a season.
In the MLS, each club has a base salary cap of $5,210,000 million and a maximum salary cap for a rostered player at $651,250. Yet, to allow the MLS to sign high-profile players, the Designated Player rule allows each club to sign up to three players whose salaries exceed the league’s salary cap. The salary of the three Designated Players will count for only $612,500 against the cap regardless of what they actually earn. The club itself covers the cost of any compensation given to the player exceeding such amount. Inter Miami had all three Designated Player spots filled prior to signing Messi and terminated one of the Designated Player’s contracts to bring him in under the exception to salary cap rules. Thus, even though Messi’s salary is significantly less than what he could make elsewhere in the world, it is a historically high salary in the MLS.
Ownership Stake in Inter Miami
In addition to his salary, Messi will receive the option for part-ownership in Inter Miami upon retirement. Prior to Messi, Inter Miami was valued at $585 million. Today, the club is worth more than $1 billion. The increase in value of the club as a whole is attributed to various factors. For starters, Inter Miami’s Instagram account has grown from 1 million to 14 million followers. This is larger than any team following in the NFL, NHL, or MLB. Additionally, social media revenue is very large given the viewership and interaction Messi content is receiving. For example, a posted video of Messi’s first goal for Inter Miami received more than 214 million social media views and about 14 million impressions. Further, ticket prices have increased drastically. Tickets going for $100 in the 2022 season are now worth over $1,000. Additionally it is said that in the past month alone, Messi has brought in $265 million total in ticket sales for Inter Miami. The clubs value is also increased thanks to projected revenue to be received moving forward. Inter Miami is now expecting to receive a record revenue of $200 million in 2024 which is three times higher than they originally projected. This sort of revenue would also be record breaking for the MLS as it would be the largest sum of revenue ever generated by a team in MLS history.
The exact percentage of ownership Messi has the option to obtain is unknown but it is rumored to be about 35% of the club. If Messi chooses to exercise his option to purchase, he has likely already agreed to the price he can purchase the equity for in his contract or a discount he is guaranteed to receive when the time comes to exercise the option. This sort of contract provision allows Messi to directly benefit from any growth he brings to the club. Given that the club has grown tremendously in the past month, such contract provision adds millions of dollars in wealth to Messi’s total contract value.
Additionally, as part of his signing with Inter Miami, Messi entered into a revenue sharing agreement with Apple. Apple is the official MLS streaming platform who entered into a ten-year , $2.5 billion agreement with the MLS for such title. Pursuant to the deal, Messi is taking a cut of revenue from new MLS Season Pass subscribers. The cost of season subscriptions are generally $99 and have more than doubled since Messi’s arrival to the MLS in July. Specifically, Apple TV has gained 300,000 new subscribers making an estimated profit of $29.7 million. While it is unknown what specific percentage Messi is receiving of revenue, given the large amount of profits it is sure to be in the millions.
Messi also earned a revenue sharing agreement with Adidas, the official shirt sponsor of MLS, as part of his signing to Inter Miami. The Messi Inter Miami jersey is the most expensive jersey of Adidas at $160. Despite the high price, the jersey was reported by ESPN as the fastest-selling jersey in the first 24 hours of release ever recorded. As of July, orders for the number 10 Messi jerseys were backlogged through October.
About Micah Barrett
Micah is a former collegiate volleyball player and NIL Fellow at Rockridge®, a Certified B Corp and RealLeaders Top 150 global impact company. She previously worked for the Nashville Predators, and helps athletes, entertainers, and influencers monetize their rights, and helps companies and organizations build brand pipelines.
Micah’s practice areas include:
- athlete and entertainer rights;
- brand law, including copyright and trademark practice;
- data privacy; and,
- social enterprise, ESG, and B Corps.
Email Micah Barrett directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.