Lionel Messi earns €80 million (£69m/$94m) gross salary, although half of that is taxed, meaning the Argentine’s net wage is €40m (£34m/$47m).
For Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer, that figure is gross too, but in the other sense of the word.
“I’m still trying to understand how [Messi’s pay packet] fits with Financial Fair Play (FFP),” the 67-year-old told SportBild’s Bayern Insider podcast.
“As PSG is currently upgrading, we will take a very close look at how that can be reconciled with UEFA rules. We stick to it, but then we expect other clubs to do the same.
“I’m not too quick to judge Paris, but the purchasing policy is already huge. It’s not the transfer fees; it’s the salaries.
“When I hear that Messi earns €40m net, that’s €80m gross. In addition, [Achraf] Hakimi, [Sergio] Ramos, [Gianluigi] Donnarumma – a lot comes together.”
David Alaba left the club on a free transfer after they refused to give into his contract demands, while veteran duo Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez were not offered new deals either.
Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn claimed Alaba and his agent’s requests were disconnected from reality, but Real Madrid were willing to give into those demands, with Der Spiegel claiming that he’ll earn €115m (£100m/$135m) in total over the next five years, including €17.7m (£15m/$21m) in signing on fees to agent Pini Zahavi, father George Alaba and the defender himself.
The Bundesliga champions do not give into player demands as readily as other clubs, but are still able to retain top players and keep the wage bill under control.
This week, they have agreed new deals for Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka without much fuss, securing the future of the Bayern midfield until at least 2025.
But even in those negotiations, Bayern made their position clear from the outset: players can earn more money elsewhere, but they may not enjoy the same guarantee of success.
“They will certainly not be kept at any cost,” Hainer told Kicker. “The players know what they have at Bayern, they are paid very well here too, everyone gets their salary.
“And they can win titles with us now, and also in the future.”
Certainly, as the economic crisis caused by the pandemic has proven, a lot of top European clubs mortgaged their future on immediate success, and are now paying the price.
Indeed, Barcelona’s era of dominance in Spain looks set to be over after years of financial mismanagement. The Blaugrana are €1.2 billion (£1.1b/$1.5b) in debt, with 74 per cent of the club’s income being spent on salaries.
As a result, they were unable to re-register Messi for the new season because of La Liga’s salary cap rules, paving the way for PSG to pick him up on a free transfer.
In fact, Barcelona’s business has been so poor, they even owe money for players that are no longer on their books.
Arturo Vidal is now at Inter, but Bayern Munich are still due €11m (£10m/$13m) from his transfer to Camp Nou in 2018.
The Catalans are, thus, still in the incredible and unenviable position of needing to save a further €200m in salary costs even after Messi’s departure.
And it’s worth pointing out that while Barca have just lost their greatest player in their entire history, Bayern have managed to hold on to their most valuable asset despite rumours that Robert Lewandowski was looking for a new challenge this summer.
Under no circumstances, though, would the Bavarians have considered selling the prolific Polish striker, and because of how they are run financially, they had no need to let him leave, no matter the size of the offer.
In a further example of their prudence and sensible recruitment strategy, they have been looking to offload either Corentin Tolisso or Michael Cuisance before securing a deal for Marcel Sabitzer.
Significantly, new coach Julian Nagelsmann is aware of the financial constraints at the club and is beginning to make his tactical approach with the squad at his disposal.
“Transfers? We’ll see what’s possible. If there’s something, then we will announce it. If not, then we will work with what we have,” he told reporters after Sunday’s 3-2 win over Koln.
Working with what he has will be enough to secure the Bundesliga title again, despite the likes of RB Leipzig improving in the off-season.
That is thanks to the club’s long-term vision and their history of success. You can earn more money elsewhere, but the ‘Mia San Mia’ mentality guarantees trophies almost every year.
More big clubs should follow Bayern’s lead.