Leo Messi has been a free agent since 1 July 2021, when his contract with FC Barcelona ended. The club and Joan Laporta are close to reaching an agreement on a renewal deal to tie down the world's most influential footballer.
Messi leaving Barça would not just affect FC Barcelona on a sporting and economic level, but it would also represent a huge blow for the treasury, due to the amount of taxes that Leo is contractually obliged to contribute to the Spanish coffers. Of course, if Messi decides to seek pastures new, his new club would surely be based abroad.
For footballers, the Spanish tax regime is the toughest of the five big leagues in Europe. Messi needs to pay roughly half of what he earns to the Treasury. This amounts to around 50 million euros a year which go directly from the player's salary to the public coffers, making him the biggest taxpayer in Spain.
If Messi left Barça and LaLiga, the Spanish Tax Agency would stop receiving a huge amount of money that could be used for public services. In fact, Messi contributes the same amount in taxes as 120,000 average citizens, taking into account the average earnings and tax contributions of the Spanish population.
In total, Messi has paid more than 370 million euros to the taxman since he extended his contract in 2017, according to an article in El Periódico. A large part of this corresponds to income tax (IRPF), paying roughly 275 million euros between 2017, when he renewed his contract, and 30 June 2021, when it expired.
This total amount also includes wealth tax, for the net wealth (without debt) that he possesses; and corporate tax for image rights, as well as other businesses in which he is involved and advertising contracts.
Of all of his contributions, the largest share corresponds to income tax (IRPF) for the fixed and variable part of his salary, with which he earns 138 million gross per year, leaving him with 72 million euros net.
Another significant part corresponds to image rights, which cannot exceed 15% of the total amount that he receives, which has risen to 83.3 million during this period. With this in mind, it is clear that the mere possibility of Leo leaving FC Barcelona is enough to make the taxman tremble at the prospect of losing such a large amount of money.