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Report: Messi’s contract worth up to 555 million euros

Report: Messi’s contract worth up to 555 million euros

The El Mundo newspaper reports that Lionel Messi’s most recent contract with Barcelona is worth up to 555 million euros over four seasonsBy TALES AZZONI AP Sports WriterJuly 15, 2021, 2:08 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMADRID — Lionel Messi’s most recent contract with Barcelona is worth up to 555 million euros ($673 million) over four seasons, the El Mundo newspaper reported on Sunday.The Spanish daily said it had access to the document Messi signed with the Catalan club in 2017, which included fixed incomes and variables that could reach nearly 138 million euros ($167 million) each season. The newspaper said it is the most expensive contract ever agreed with an athlete in any sport.Messi would have to pay about half of that in taxes in Spain.The report said the 33-year-old player has already secured more than 510 million euros ($619 million) of the total.Barcelona denied responsibility for leaking the document and said it would take legal action against the newspaper.“The club regrets its publication given that it is a private document governed by the principle of confidentiality between the parties,” it said in a statement. “FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.”Messi, who did not immediately make any public comments about the report, later Sunday scored a goal in the team’s 2-1 win against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league. The result moved the Catalan club into second place for the first time this season, though its gap to leader Atlético Madrid was 10 points.“We have to try to find out how this got to the press,” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said. “If someone from the club leaked this, that person can’t have a future in this club.”The leak comes as Barcelona tries to manage a huge debt created mostly because of the coronavirus pandemic. The club has been led by a caretaker board since president Josep Bartomeu resigned in October while facing a no-confidence motion. New presidential elections are scheduled for March 7.“I don’t understand how you can associate Messi with Barcelona’s problems,” Koeman said. “He has been showing his quality as a player for many years and has helped make this club great.”The newspaper also detailed how Messi rewarded the club over the years, having helped it win more than 30 titles.Messi has been with Barcelona for nearly two decades but asked to leave at the end of last season after saying he wasn’t happy with the direction the club was taking. His request was denied but he will be able to leave for free when this season ends.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Belgium edges Portugal, reaches quarterfinals at Euro 2020

Belgium edges Portugal, reaches quarterfinals at Euro 2020

Belgium held Cristiano Ronaldo scoreless and defeated defending champion Portugal 1-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the European ChampionshipBy TALES AZZONI AP Sports WriterJune 27, 2021, 9:54 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSEVILLE, Spain — Belgium stopped Cristiano Ronaldo on one end, and had just enough attacking power on the other.The top-ranked Belgians held Ronaldo scoreless Sunday and held onto a first-half lead to beat Portugal 1-0 and advance to the quarterfinals of the European Championship.Ronaldo, who threw his captain’s armband to the ground in despair after the final whistle, is still one goal shy of becoming the all-time men’s top scorer in international soccer. He came into the match tied with former Iran striker Ali Daei at 109 goals.Belgium, which has never before won a major soccer title, will next face Italy on Friday in Munich.Belgium’s potent attack, led by Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, also struggled, but Thorgan Hazard scored the winning goal in the 42nd minute with a swerving shot from outside the area. Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patrício was left wrong-footed and was late to swat the ball away.“In these kinds of games you have to grab your chances with both hands,” Thorgan Hazard said. “The goalkeeper expected me to choose the other corner, so the ball went in.”Belgium played most of the second half without De Bruyne, who had to be substituted after being tackled from behind. He had missed the team’s first game at Euro 2020 while recovering from a facial injury sustained in the Champions League final.Portugal had several good chances to equalize late in the match, including a header by Rúben Dias saved by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and a shot by Raphael Guerreiro that hit the post.The Portuguese did most of the attacking in the second half, finishing the match with 24 attempts. Belgium had six in total and scored the only time it hit the target.“Looking at that second half, we are lucky to win,” Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen said. “Portugal made it really hard for us. We had to really stay focused. It has cost us a lot of energy, but we have some time to recover and now we are looking forward to the game against Italy.”While Portugal’s run for a second consecutive European title ended, Belgium stayed on track to end its title drought. The Belgians lost in the European Championship final in 1980 and finished third three years ago at the World Cup for their best finish at that tournament.The Red Devils have won all four matches so far at Euro 2020 and won all 10 qualifiers for the tournament. The team is unbeaten in 13 consecutive matches in all competitions, since a loss to England last year in the Nations League. Belgium has lost only one of its last 27 international matches.Ronaldo was kept in check for most of the match, with his best scoring chance coming from a free kick saved by Courtois in the 25th minute. He also was off target with a free kick in the 74th, and then only managed a weak shot on goal from inside the area a few minutes later.The Juventus striker seemed frustrated by the lack of opportunities, and he also couldn’t do much to help his teammates, with Diogo Jota misfiring from close range after a pass from Ronaldo in the 56th.“We have some players crying in the changing room, and I’m sure that many Portuguese fans are as well,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “We were confident with our chances of winning the European title and we thought we could win it. Portugal deserved to win this match but it didn’t happen.”It had been a slow start at La Cartuja Stadium on a hot night in southern Spain, with neither team threatening much offensively.Portugal kept Belgium’s attack under control until Thorgan Hazard scored after a failed clearance in front of the area.The game grew heated at times, with a small altercation starting in the 76th after Portugal defender Pepe came in hard on Thorgan Hazard while play was stopped as Lukaku waited to be attended by doctors after being hit on the head by an opponent’s foot.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni