The Argentina star’s marketability has been hailed by Barcelona’s sporting director, who believes he is “economically unattainable” for nearly every club in the world
Lionel Messi is most famous for the number of goals he scores but Barcelona’s sporting director Ariedo Braida has spoken of his astonishment at the number of the player’s shirts sold to his adoring fans.
The 27-year-old has made a strong start to the year after enduring a difficult run of form at the end of last year amid rumours of a bust-up with Barca coach Luis Enrique and speculation he could leave the club in the summer of 2015.
Messi’s revival has helped to spark the Blaugrana’s title push, which has seen them overtake Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, where they enjoy a one-point lead on their fierce rivals ahead of the clash between the sides on March 22.
Braida previously held the sporting director post at AC Milan before leaving the club in January 2014, and the Italian revealed he has been taken aback by the pulling power of the side’s star player.
He told Radio Anch’io Sport:”He’s a very strong player and is the icon of world football. He sells lots of shirts all around the world, it’s extraordinary.
“The president always says that Messi is an alien. I think and hope that economically he’s unapproachable for other clubs. Even if you have to pay attention to new investors, Messi has a release clause of €250 million and for most teams that is an unattainable figure.
“Leo in Barcelona is much-loved by all, I think it would be a mistake for him to change team. ”
Messi has scored 32 goals in 27 league games this season, with 17 of those coming since the turn of the year, including two in the 2-0 win over Eibar on Saturday