Report: Lionel Messi Turned Down $40 Million Salary Offer From Russian Club to Stay at FC Barcelona

Lionel Messi, Xavier Hernandez, Gerard PiqueAn unnamed Russian soccer team tested the strength of the bond between Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona recently, only to discover that money alone can’t break it.

The Argentine superstar was presented with an offer that would have made him the world’s most expensive and highest-paid player. He declined the massive offer and chose to sign a contract extension with Barcelona instead, according to Football Espana.

“The Argentine, along with teammates Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez , extended his stay at Camp Nou last week, signing a deal which apparently upped his wages to €16 million ($21.2 million) a year,” the report says.

“However a report in today’s Mundo Deportivo states that an unnamed Russian outfit attempted to hijack negotiations by offering Messi €30 million ($40 million) a year. The suitors were also apparently willing to meet the player’s colossal €250 million ($330.8 million) buyout clause.”

The transfer offer triggered a clause in Messi’s contract, allowing the club to discuss contractual terms with the player’s father and agent, Jorge Messi. Messi wasn’t interested in leaving the club that brought him to Europe, and he didn’t hold Barcelona ransom with the Russian offer either.

“Messi and his father [and agent] Jorge are said to have ignored the approach, choosing not to incorporate it into their discussions with the Catalan club or use it as leverage,” the report adds.

The unknown club could have been Anzhi Makhachkala, but it has not been confirmed. Anzhi, one of the world’s richest  clubs, already has the world’s highest-paid player, Samuel Eto’o, on its books. The Cameroonian star reportedly makes 20.5 million Euros ($28.8 million) annually. The value of Messi’s proposed contract would have dwarfed that figure by some measure.

Messi’s new contract begins in July and ties him to the Catalan club until 2018 when he will be 31 years old. There’s no indication that he wants to play for any other club. He joined Barcelona in 2000 when he was 13 and has been a regular in the first-team since 2004. His latest deal is reportedly the sixth contract extension he has signed.

Barcelona has more than recouped the value of its investment in Messi. He has simply become the world’s greatest soccer player, winning individual and team awards with stunning regularity. He broke Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year earlier this month, finishing 2012 with an astonishing 91 goals. The feat should see him capture FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award (recognizing the best player in the world) for an unprecedented fourth-straight year.

Earlier this year, Messi’s father said it would take a “catastrophe” for his son to leave Barcelona. Apparently the (more than) doubling of one’s salary doesn’t fit that description.

Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer, NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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