Lionel Messi: The world's most expensive football player who'd play for nothing

Lionel Messi is the most expensive football player in the world. But it's not the money that motivates him.

How much does he earn?

Argentinian football maestro Lionel Messi is up for grabs. That's the rumour that's set the hearts of club managers across Europe racing and it seems Chelsea could be first in line to snap up the four-time winner of the Ballon d'Or.

But he won't come cheap. CIES Football Observatory rates Messi as the most valuable player in the world, with a price tag in the region of £172m. And then there's his annual salary over $20m. Combined with sponsorship deals for Pepsi, Adidas and Turkish Airlines, The Daily Beast reckons he takes home around $65m a year.

Is he a saver or a spender?

That depends or what you call a spender'. Messi's spending habits are status-appropriate: a Mazerati GranTurismo, an Audi Q7, and a Ferrari F430 Spider are three of the cars in his collection. And of course, then there are the holidays in Ibiza, not to mention his luxury mansion in Barcelona.

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Any rich guy hobbies?

Lionel Messi is a family man. And who can blame him? The 27-year-old lives with his glamourous yet non-famous girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo with whom he has a two-year-old son named Tiago.

What's been his best financial move?

From a young age, Messi suffered from a hormone deficiency, which affected his growth. Barcelona promised to cover his medical expenses, and was in such a hurry to sign the child prodigious from Rosario, Argentina, that his first contract was scrawled on a napkin. He's been with the club ever since.

And his worst?

An investigation into his finances between 2007 and 2009 turned up accusations of tax evasion. If convicted, Messi faced up to six years behind bars, so it wasn't too surprising he agreed to pay $6m in back-taxes and interest. As The Daily Beast notes, employing his father Jorge as his money manager probably wasn't the best idea.

Favourite charity?

In 2007, Messi foundered the Leo Messi Foundation. Its mission is to help "vulnerable" children gain access to sport and education. He's also been a good-will ambassador for Unicef since 2010.

Has money made him happy?

"Money is not a motivating factor. Money doesn't thrill me or make me play better because there are benefits to being wealthy. I'm just happy with a ball at my feet. My motivation comes from playing the game I love. If I wasn't paid to be a professional footballer I would willingly play for nothing." Lionel Messi.

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.