The numbers behind Lionel Messi‘s new contract are staggering.
If anyone wants to get Messi, they’ll have to pay three times that. Safe to say, the Neymar transfer taught Barcelona the new definition of a hands-off release clause.
That wasn’t the only way in which Messi’s new deal was influenced by Neymar. If the Barcelona star earns all the bonuses in his contract, he’ll be the highest-paid player in the world – usurping, you guessed it, Neymar and his recently-inked PSG contract. Expect a back-and-forth in that contest over the next few years.
Messi’s contract means he could pay the salary of every first-team player at Huddersfield Town, or Brighton and Hove Albion, or buy a Ferrari every week and still have money left over.
But if anyone’s wondering whether any footballer is worth that sort of money, just remember exactly what Messi brings to Barcelona, what he’s been bringing for nearly 15 years. He’s synonymous with the club, and to make sure he stayed, Barcelona would have paid anything.
Get the full lowdown on Messi’s new contract in the video above.
Iniesta asked to be replaced early in the second-half of Barca’s 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday, but he could return as early as next weekend for a testing La Liga visit to Villarreal.
“Tests have confirmed that Andres Iniesta has a strain in the calf of his left leg. The player will be out for the next game,” Barcelona said in a statement.
Iniesta is unlikely to be the only Barca star left out for the visit of the Portuguese side with Ernesto Valverde’s men already guaranteed top spot in Group D with a game to spare.
However, injury problems are mounting for Valverde with influential centre-back Samuel Umtiti ruled out for two months after tearing his hamstring on Saturday.
With just three weeks to go until Barca face Real Madrid in the first El Clasico of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu, Umtiti in particular faces a race to be fit for December 23.
In doubly bad luck for Barca, the French international pulled up with a hamstring injury to allow Iago Aspas to sprint in behind the Barca defence and tee up Maxi Gomez to hand Celta a share of the points 20 minutes from time.
“It was a series of unfortunate incidents in the one move,” lamented Barca boss Ernesto Valverde.
Umtiti has been a rock at the heart of the Barca defence as the Catalans had conceded just six goals in their previous 20 games prior to Celta’s visit.
“We think it is a tear. He has spoken to the doctors but we will have to see the tests tomorrow to discover the extent of the injury,” added Valverde.
“It is a problem to lose an important player like Samuel, who was in great form.”
Iniesta also asked to be replaced just five minutes into the second-half.
However, Valverde is more optimistic that his absence won’t be a prolonged one.
“He asked for the change,” said Valverde.
“We don’t know if it is a significant injury or not because he then continued to play on for a little while longer.”
Valverde can afford the luxury of resting his star men for Tuesday’s Champions League visit of Sporting Lisbon with top spot in Group D already assured.
Barca do, though, face a tricky trip to Villarreal next weekend before hosting Deportivo la Coruna ahead of the Clasico.
Celta became the first visiting side in La Liga to take anything away from the Camp Nou since Real Madrid a year ago.
“They took advantage of counter-attacks and our mistakes, it is a shame,” said Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets.
– Stunning save –
Aspas sprung Barca’s offside trap to put Celta in front on the break after Marc-Andre ter Stegen had produced a stunning save from Gomez after 20 minutes.
“We showed more, we went for the game more and we were more intense, but football is like this,” added Busquets.
“It’s not about what is fair, it is about who scores most goals.
“They scored twice, they were efficient and got a point.”
Barca did remain unbeaten and opened a five-point lead at the top over Valencia.
However, Valencia can whittle that down to two points with victory at Getafe on Sunday.
Real and Atletico Madrid can close to within six points of the leaders with victory over Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad respectively later on Saturday.