By Matt Foster, CNN
(CNN) — Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi is to earn between $50 and $60 million per year when he joins Inter Miami, the club’s part-owner Jorge Mas told Spanish publication El Pais in an interview.
The lower of those figures would make Messi the highest-paid player in Major League Soccer (MLS) by over $40 million, according to sports salary tracker Spotrac. According to that site, Xherdan Shaqiri currently earns the most in the league with an annual wage of $8,153,000.
Messi’s potential on-pitch earnings are outstripped by those of his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has a $75 million playing salary after moving to Saudi Arabian team Al-Nassr, according to Forbes.
Mas confirmed to El Pais that the 35-year-old’s wage will be supplemented by the guarantee of being part of the club’s ownership once he retires, as well as a cut from the profits of MLS’ broadcasting deal with Apple TV and the team’s kit sales from Adidas.
The managing owner noted that the Apple TV stipulation was “very important” in the completion of an agreement.
Mas revealed to El Pais that negotiations around Messi’s arrival lasted three years, involving Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, as well as Mas’ fellow co-owner David Beckham, who spoke to Messi “only about the football side of things.”
The owners are bullish about the league’s potential for growth following Messi’s arrival, with Mas stating in the El Pais interview that the World Cup-winning captain’s arrival “will elevate the league to another level” into “one of the two or three best leagues in the world.”
With regard to other players joining Messi and Inter Miami, Mas confirmed that former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets has signed to the team as “it was important for us to surround Messi with players of his caliber.”
Mas detailed that two more of Messi’s former Barcelona teammates had been in talks with Inter Miami. Mas named Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez as players the team had talked to, as well as Messi’s compatriot Angel Di Maria, most recently of Juventus.
Messi is reportedly due to make his debut for the club on July 21 against Mexican side Cruz Azul.
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