MLS

Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi set to make an MLS-record $20.45 million this season

Inter Miami star Lionel Messi shakes hands with MLS commissioner Don Garber after his team won the 2023 Leagues Cup

Lionel Messi will make an MLS-record $20.45 million this season but he’s just one of six millionaires playing for league-leading Inter Miami, according to salary figures released Thursday by the MLS players association.

The league’s average guaranteed compensation is $594,389, up 12% from last season, with the median salary topping $308,000. Nine players have guaranteed compensation of more than $5.2 million and 20 have guaranteed compensation of more than $3.5 million.

Messi, who leads the league in goal contributions with 10 scores and an MLS-best nine assists, has a base salary of $12 million and guaranteed compensation of $20,446,667, the same as last summer. But his pay was prorated in 2023 because he didn’t join MLS until midseason. His guaranteed salary is larger than the total of payrolls of 25 other teams.

Toronto’s Lorenzo Insigne is the league’s second-richest player with guaranteed compensation of $15.4 million.

Read more: Lionel Messi is the highest paid MLS player, beating the previous mark by $5 million

Inter Miami also has the team’s top payroll at a guaranteed $41.679 million, a league record and more than $10 million higher than second-place Toronto FC. The Galaxy’s wage bill of $17.9 million — a drop of more than 28% from last fall — ranks eighth. LAFC’s overall payroll is $15.9 million, 17th highest. It is 24.1% less than last season and below the MLS average of $17.7 million and the median payroll of $16.2 million but it does not include the designated-player contract signed this week by French striker Olivier Giroud, who will join the team in July.

Sergio Busquets, who played with Messi at Barcelona and is now an Inter Miami teammate, has a guaranteed salary of $8.77 million — up nearly $7 million from last season — while Luis Suarez, whose 11 goals is tied for the league lead, will make $1.5 million from Inter Miami, which is also paying defenders Jordi Alba and Nicolás Freire and midfielder Julian Gressel at least $1 million.

Winger Joseph Paintsil is the Galaxy’s top-paid player at $3.358 million, $900,000 more than winger Gabriel Pec. Midfielder Riqui Puig, the team’s third designated player, will make $2.45 million. Midfielders Diego Fagúndez ($1.3 million) and Gastón Brugman ($1.4 million) are also…

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