Figures have emerged that show a huge difference between Cristiano Ronaldo’s first contract with Sporting CP and Lionel Messi’s initial deal with Catalan giants Barcelona.
Ronaldo kicked off his professional career with the Lisbon club, making his first-team debut in a Champions League qualifier against Inter Milan in August 2002, before his eye-catching displays won him a £12million switch to Manchester United 12 months later. His long-time rival Messi, joined Barcelona’s youth system from Newell’s Old Boys in 2000 and rose through the ranks at the Camp Nou to make his debut four years later, helping Barca lift La Liga title in his first season in 2004/05.
The superstar duo are both worth billions now, but it was a very different story when they started out. According to the Daily Mail, Ronaldo earned an annual wage of £860,000 after penning his first contract at Sporting CP, a figure that doubled to £1.8m per year after making the move to Old Trafford.
In comparison, El Futbolero claim that Messi earned just £516 per-month as a youth player at Barcelona, before his wage packet shot up to around £2.6m per year after agreeing his first professional deal in 2004. Messi’s first pro deal ran for eight years and initially included a buyout clause of €30million that quickly rose to €80m after he debuted for La Masia’s B team.
The two players have gone onto dominate world football in the last 17 years, winning a staggering 13 Ballon d’Ors and 13 Champions League titles between them. Ronaldo top the charts in both the La Liga and European Cup for the most goals scored and have also won captained Portugal and Argetina respectively to major silverware, most recently with the latter’s triumph in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Ronaldo, who moved pined Real Madrid from Manchester United for a world record transfer fee of £80million in 2009, has netted 745 club competitive goals as well as 146 for his country After nine years illustrious years at the Bernabeu, he made the switch to Juventus in 2018 before returning to United for a 15-month stint between 2021 and 2022.
The 39-year-old now turns out for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League.. Despite his advancing years, the Portuguese superstar still has plenty in the tank and has knocked up 30 goals in 31 games so far this season. Forbes reports that Ronaldo continues to be among the highest paid athletes on the planet, with his three-year deal at Al-Nassr worth around £175m.
Messi’s stellar career at Barcelona came to an end in August 2021, after a glorious spell in which he helped the club win a sensational 34 major trophies, netting 672 times in 778 appearances.
He then moved onto Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer and after two years in the French capital, headed Stateside to join MLS side Inter Miami last summer. The 36-year-old made an instant impact, scoring 11 goals in 14 matches to lead his team to glory in the Leagues Cup.