• El Mundo leaks details of Lionel Messi's contract with Barcelona
  • The Barcelona star's annual salary is higher than any sports athlete
  • Barcelona has distanced itself from any involvement in the leak

The football world was in a state of shock after Spanish publication El Mundo leaked the very secret details of Lionel Messi’s mega-contract he signed with Barcelona in 2017.

The Argentine ace has established himself as one of the greatest to ever play the game over the last decade having won every single individual accolade in the sport.

There was no doubt that Messi was among the highest earners in all of sports, but the details leaked by El Mundo make it clear that there is no one close to being at the same level as the six-time Ballon D’Or winner.

Italian transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has broken down the staggering numbers of Messi’s salary as reported by the Spanish newspaper. The Barca captain earned €555,237,619 ( $674 million) over four years, with an annual salary of €138 million ($167 million) including a €115 million ($139 million) renewal fee and a €77 million ($94.6 million) loyalty bonus.

Prior to Messi’s contract revelation, Patrick Mahomes’ NFL record 10-year $503 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs was regarded as the largest contract ever signed by an athlete.

However, his lucrative pact with the Chiefs now pales in comparison to Messi. In fact, there is no one in the NFL, NHL, and NBA at par with the 33-year-old's hefty wage.

According to Yahoo Sports, Messi’s annual salary of $167 million is higher than the combined salaries of NBA superstar LeBron James, multiple-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady and NHL star Connor McDavid for this year.

Meanwhile, Barcelona has quickly distanced itself from any involvement with the publication of Messi’s salary details and has condemned the decision of El Mundo to publish the deal's confidential information.

“FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication,” a statement read on the club’s official site.

“FC Barcelona expresses its absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the entity where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history.”

Lionel Messi is set to return for Barcelona against Osasuna after being rested in the Champions League
Lionel Messi is set to return for Barcelona against Osasuna after being rested in the Champions League AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS