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Soccer superstar Messi is being partly paid in crypto by PSG

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Key Points
  • Messi signed a two-year deal with PSG this week, with an option for a third, that will net him an annual salary of $41 million plus bonuses.
  • PSG said on Thursday that Lionel Messi's wage package includes the cryptocurrency "$PSG Fan Tokens."
Lionel Messi arrives on the pitch after holding a press conference announcing his signing with French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain in Paris on August 11, 2021.
Alaattin Dogru | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Lionel Messi's financial package at French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain includes crypto tokens.

Messi signed a two-year deal with PSG this week, with an option for a third, that will net him an annual salary of $41 million plus bonuses, and a reported $30 million signing-on fee.

PSG said Thursday that Messi's "welcome package" includes the cryptocurrency "$PSG Fan Tokens."

The development has triggered a rally in the crypto tokens that PSG first issued to its fans over a year ago. The $PSG token, created in Jan. 2020 with crypto platform Socios.com, was designed to help PSG build a new fan community.

PSG claimed the move to pay the 34-year-old Argentine in crypto positions it as one of the "most innovative and avant-garde brands in sport globally."

Cryptocurrencies and crypto tokens are incredibly volatile assets and their value can surge or tank overnight. Critics say that many of these crypto assets are useless in the real world and that regulators will clamp down on them in the coming years.

Marc Armstrong, chief partnerships officer of PSG, said in a statement that embracing Socios.com and $PSG Fan Tokens has enabled the club to engage with a new global audience and create a significant digital revenue stream.

England's Manchester City launched its own fan token in March using the same technology.

"Fan Tokens and Socios.com play an increasingly prominent role across sport at the very highest level," said Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO of Socios.com, in a statement.

PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi told reporters on Wednesday that the world will be "shocked" by the financial revenues generated by the club's signing of the global soccer superstar.

The signing is expected to bring a windfall of commercial revenues, through such avenues as jersey sales. When Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Italian giants Juventus in 2018, more than $60 million worth of his shirts were sold in just 24 hours.

Messi joined PSG as a free agent after Barcelona acknowledged they could no longer afford to follow through on the elite player's five-year contract agreement.

Messi broke down in tears when bidding farewell to Barcelona on Monday, and told Wednesday's press conference that the past week had been an "emotional roller coaster."

He has won FIFA's player of the year award and the European Golden Shoe for the continent's top scorer a record six times each, and departed Barcelona after two decades with the Catalan club, in which he contributed 672 goals in all competitions and won 34 trophies.

— CNBC's Elliot Smith contributed to this report.

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Lionel Messi leaves Barcelona for PSG