Lionel Messi has had a transcendent season. In 38 games for Barcelona in the Spanish Primera División, he scored 43 goals and assisted for 18 others. In all competitions, his tally stands at 56 goals and 27 assists. He literally won everything—the Spanish league title, the Champions league and the Copa del Rey. And on his way to winning the elusive treble he did things like this:
Today, though, he woke up to a bit of bad news. A Spanish court has ruled that he is to stand trial for alleged tax fraud. Messi, along with his father, is accused of creating a network of companies to avoid paying income tax, which Spanish authorities are claiming defrauded the country’s tax agency of €4.1 million worth of revenue.
But, Messi will also surely be comforted by the fact that he is now the most valuable player in the world, according to new data by CIES Football Observatory. He is an estimated €120 million ($135 million) ahead of his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who fell to third behind Chelsea’s Premier League player of the year, Eden Hazard.
Ronaldo, though, can take solace with the fact when it comes to earnings, he brings in more than Messi—€61.2 million to the Argentinian’s €56.77 million, according to Forbes.
An interesting little factoid from the CIES report: Gareth Bale, who signed for Real Madrid for a world record fee of €100 million two years ago, has fallen to 16th on the list, valued at an estimated €51.3 million.
Meanwhile, Messi’s club Barcelona has the highest aggregate transfer value of any squad—at €682 million—followed by the newly minted Premier League Champions Chelsea and Ronaldo’s Real. Overall, six of the 10 clubs with the highest transfer values are in England.