According to reports from Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona star Lionel Messi turned down a blockbuster transfer move to joing Russian giants Anzhi Makhachkala after the club triggered a €250 million (more than $300 million) bid to the Spanish club.
The Argentine captain was reportedly offered a five-year contract that pays 560,000 euros per week (more than ($740,000 per week), but quickly dismissed the advances from the Russian club. That would put the 25-year-old's annual salary at €30 million (just under $40 million) after taxes, which would make him the highest-paid player in the world.
However, Anzhi’s marketing consultant German Tkachenko quelled the report, insisting that the mega-rich club has other future sporting goals.
“There isn’t a shred of truth in it,” Tkachenko told Russia newspaper Sport-Express. “Asking a question about this, let alone writing about it, shows a lack of understanding of how Anzhi’s sporting model is designed and what its principles and priorities are.”
Former Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o, who played with Messi at the Camp Nou, transferred to Anzhi in 2011. The Cameroon striker is currently the highest-paid player, earning €20 million per year.
Messi, the three-time world player of the year, scored 90 goals in 2012 and recently signed a new contract through 2018.
Teammates and World Cup winners Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol also agreed to new deals with the Catalan club.
"This news means that FC Barcelona has secured its ties with three of its most important players," the club said in a statement, adding the contracts would be signed "over the course of the next few weeks."
Club spokesman Toni Freixa said, "It was a very important matter for us all, but there was no problem when we came to negotiate and agree."