Paris Saint Germain pulled out all of the stops to secure the signing of Lionel Messi this summer and are propping up the lucrative salary package of football’s biggest star with the inclusion of cryptocurrency assets, Sportsmail can reveal.
The sporting world is still reeling from Messi’s switching of allegiance from Barcelona to the French capital, after it was confirmed that he could no longer be re-registered at the Nou Camp.
Eyebrows were raised when PSG immediately became frontrunners for the superstar, despite already boasting the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on their books, along with summer signings Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi.
Sportsmail can reveal that PSG handed Lionel Messi ‘a large number’ of cryptocurrency tokens as part of his blockbuster summer move to join as free agent from Barcelona
The ‘fan tokens’ are powered by cryptocurrency $Chiliz and are sold to supporters in order for them to have a controlling say on the club’s affairs
And, despite Messi’s eye-watering £1million-per-week two-year deal which sees him remain as the world’s highest paid footballer, PSG struck a deal with the player and his representatives to see a portion of his payment package made up of ‘$PSG fan tokens.’
Back in September 2018 PSG announced an innovative partnership with blockchain company socios.com, kick-starting a process whereby supporters of the club could begin to purchase $PSG fan tokens, powered by $Chiliz cryptocurrency.
The company became the ‘official branded cryptocurrency partner’ of PSG, and now a breakthrough moment has arrived with the virtual currency playing a defining role in what is arguably the football deal of the century.
Messi remains the world’s highest paid footballer on a £1million-per-week deal in Paris
On Thursday morning the Parisian club confirmed that ‘Leo Messi received a large number of ‘$PSG Fan Tokens’ during the completion of his contract, providing vast value to his pay packet with the Ligue 1 giants.
The tokens function as digital currency and hold value of their own, while enabling supporters to essentially cash these in with the club in order to have a say on how operations are run on an internal level.
Previously, PSG fan token holders have been able to determine end of season awards for the club, along with having the power to make physical changes in the players’ dressing room.
Though the total value of the package remains unknown, PSG chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi this week insisted the club have not broken financial fair play guidelines and remain secure in the knowledge that they are operating within their means.
Speaking during Messi’s unveiling press conference in the French capital on Wednesday, Al-Khelaifi said: ‘Regarding the financial aspect, I will make it clear — we know the rules of FFP and we will always follow the regulations.
PSG’s Qatari owners insist that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules will not be breached by the signing of Messi and that his enormous commercial potential will offset his salary
Messi took part in a press conference before being unveiled to the PSG fans and ultras
‘Before we do anything, we check with commercial, financial and legal people. We have the capacity.
‘If we sign Leo, it’s because we can, otherwise we would not have done it.
‘What Leo brings to the club is huge, which you can see just outside (the stadium, where thousands of fans had gathered). He is a big asset.
‘I hope Leo will not ask for a raise of salary, but what we have is fantastic,’ he added.
PSG are one of a host of European clubs to have signed up to the cryptocurrency movement, along with the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Arsenal and Messi’s former club Barcelona.
Marc Armstrong, chief partnerships officer of Paris Saint-Germain said of the deal: ‘[We are] Fully embracing Socios.com and $PSG Fan Tokens has proved a massive success for the club.
‘We have been able to engage with a new global audience, creating a significant digital revenue stream.’
The last 12 months have seen a huge growth in the presence of cryptocurrency within world football, with Italian giants Juve having previously rewarded their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo – Messi’s renowned rival – with crypto tokens for breaking the goal scoring record.
In March Ronaldo was presented with 770 $JUV Fan Tokens after becoming the all time leading goalscorer in club football, and was handed a specially printed ‘G.O.A.T’ on the pitch at the Allianz Stadium.
In March Messi’s rival Cristiano Ronaldo joined the crytocurrency movement and was handed 770 $JUV tokens after breaking the all-time club goal scoring record
SO, WHAT ARE FAN TOKENS, HOW IS CRYPTO INVOLVED AND WHY GIVE THEM TO MESSI?
Fan Tokens are digital assets that represent ownership of a voting right within football clubs such as PSG, who have partnered with Socios.com.
They give access for fans to earn unique club-specific rewards and experiences.
Fan Tokens are fungible and ownership of them is what gives a supporter the ‘license’ to vote on team decisions and compete for goods, such as VIP experiences, exclusive merchandise and match day tickets.
Socios.com is built on blockchain technology and uses the Chiliz cryptocurrency, referred to as CHZ.
Unlike physical currencies such as pounds, euros and dollars that are spent in a shop or online, cryptocurrencies only exist in the digital space and can only be spent in certain places or on certain platforms.
Inclusion of these digital assets within Messi’s deal is an interesting one. As more fan tokens are purchased using Chiliz on the blockchain platform, the value of CHZ will fluctuate in the same manner that all cryptocurrencies do.
It is expected that the arrival of the arguably the world’s greatest ever footballer will now spike a huge drive in fan tokens, as supporters seek to be closer to the action than ever before and have a say on club affairs during the Argentine’s tenure in the capital.