June 20, 2023
Melinda Head

The Old and the New: Messi and Bellingham on the Move

Money talks, bullsh*t walks

We all know that 35 year old Argentinian Lionel Messi has signed for Miami. His Spanish will definitely come in handy there.

Trailing ever so slightly behind Cristiano Ronaldo who became the world’s highest paid athlete after signing with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in January, Messi’s on and off-field earnings were recently estimated by Forbes at $130 million. Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James is America’s highest paid athlete, coming in at $20 million less than Messi.

L.A. Lakers’ LeBron James was America’s highest paid athlete until Messi joined Inter Miami

Messi is an athlete who has been laser-focused on his game, to the detriment of managing his finances … but he has done well, incredibly well. In his defense against Spanish tax authorities who found him guilty of tax fraud, Messi claimed that he “just played football”, “didn’t know anything” and “signed documents without reading them”. The court didn’t care, saying that he “unequivocally understood his obligation to pay income tax … therefore, it is not logical that he should ignore his duty to pay tax …”. That nightmare occurred back in 2016 and upon appeal in 2017. I’m pretty sure Messi is all over the fine print now. As they say: “once burnt, twice shy”.

Lionel Messi was convicted of tax fraud in Spain, but avoided jail time. As a result, his superstar livery includes an unfortunate criminal record

The U.S is a complicated place in which to obtain a visa and earn money. His criminal tax evasion record will pose some challenges, but they will be balanced against the tremendous popularity and economic boost he will bring to the sport, as the U.S. ramps up to host the World Cup in 2026 alongside Canada and Mexico.

Messi will be fine, more than fine. How can you not be with that kind of money?

Florida has no personal income tax, nor does it have any estate, inheritance or gift taxes, amid a myriad of other lucrative corporate benefits. Messi will hope to spend as much time as possible working and residing in Florida, while minimizing time spent in states that impose tax on his earnings in their geography.

Midfielder sensation Jude Bellingham is still a teenager. Germany’s Borussia Dortmund just fetched more than 100 million euros for his contract, which the lucky bridesmaid, Real Madrid, with 14 European Cup wins under its belt, can easily sell for double that amount in the future. It takes money to make money.

Teen sensation Jude Bellingham will now add Spanish to his recent German vocabulary. The immensely talented Englishman switches from a yellow to a white jersey in just a few weeks

“Money’s not a thing for me.” (Jude Bellingham, quoted by ESPN)

Bellingham will receive $21.7 million per season for the next 6 seasons, making the Real Madrid investment upwards of $270 million when transfer fees are taken into consideration.

Real Madrid’s style has been to bring in new stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham back in the day, whereas other teams, such as Liverpool, have had to focus on wider squad upgrades.

“It’s not about Jude Bellingham … why do we constantly talk about things we theoretically can't have? … You have to realize what you can do and then work with that … We are not children. Ask a five-year-old what they want for Christmas and they say a Ferrari, you wouldn't say that's a good idea — it's too expensive and you cannot drive it.” (Jurgen Klopp, Manager, Liverpool F.C.)

Messi is still under contract to Paris St. Germain for a few more weeks. The earliest he can play for Inter Miami is on July 8th against D.C. United, but some have suggested that he will make his debut against Mexico’s Liga MX on July 21st. No doubt, all Miami games will be sold out this season. Nearing the end of his professional career, Messi’s ambitions are to help Inter Miami become a dominant force in Major League Soccer (MLS), while, at the same time, securing his legacy with ventures such as Play Time. Bellingham will make his first Real Madrid appearance against AC Milan on July 23rd.  In the dawn of his career, Bellingham’s ambitions are quite different. His goal is “to win everything”. He’s not the only one who will be winning.

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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