In Brief

£625m to sign Lionel Messi: Barcelona fear clubs are ‘crazy’ enough to bid

How the ‘Neymar effect’ has had a huge impact on football transfers and contracts

Lionel Messi’s current contract at Barcelona includes a huge €700m (£625m) release clause - but according to a club director this may not be enough to stop rivals from bidding for the superstar striker.

The Argentine signed a new deal at the Catalans in November and the £625m buy-out clause was inserted in the hope no club would spend that much on one player. But after Neymar left for Paris Saint-Germain for £200m last year, nothing is impossible in the “crazy” world of football says Barcelona’s financial and strategy director Pancho Schroder.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Schroder said: “We set up a clause which we think is enough to have Messi retire at FC Barcelona. But having said that, we thought a year ago that the clause for Neymar was also good enough to retain the player, and that proved last summer not to be the case.

“Looking at the future, I think, is difficult, but I don’t have a crystal ball and these days things are getting a little bit crazy.”

Last week Messi scored his 600th career goal in Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid and is currently on 32 in all games this season.

The Neymar effect

When Neymar’s release clause was met by PSG last summer, there was a ripple effect on Barcelona’s transfer dealings, says Marca. Neymar’s “shocking departure” also saw transfer fees inflate across Europe.

Last summer Barcelona were negotiating a new contract for their No.10 Messi, but Marca says that the deal originally only had a €300m (£267m) release clause in it. Panicked by the Neymar transfer Barcelona renegotiated with Messi’s father and the new €700m (£625m) clause was added. Messi then officially signed his deal in November.

Marca wrote: “If a club was willing to spend that much money on the Brazilian [Neymar], a release clause of only €300m for Barcelona’s star player was far too low. They didn’t want to take the risk of losing their talisman so they called up the player’s father to ask for an increase in his buyout clause.”

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