LOTS of lovely free stuff comes your way when you’re a Barcelona star.
Every season brings a fresh pair or two of brand new boots, free suits and, best of all, a brand new car.
A deal with Audi means Messi and Co get to select any top-of- the range model they fancy each year for their daily ride, specced up to the max with any optional extra they might desire.
Family men Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique all plumped for an RS6 Avant worth about £130,000 while lynchpin Sergi Busquets picked out the most expensive model, an R6 Plus worth around £200,000.
New signings Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina both picked out an Audi Q7 TDI, at £65,000 while modest defender Samuel Umtiti went for an RS3 Sportback worth a paltry £55,000.
Most days of the week fans from as far away as China, Saudi Arabia and Mexico flock to the club’s training complex outside Barcelona to see their heroes blast through the gate to pull on their boots for training sessions.
CAR BY SQUAD NUMBER
1 Marc-André ter Stegen Audi SQ5 TFSI Mythos black (£71,000)
2 Nélson Semedo Audi Q7 Carrara white (£75,000)
3 Gerard Piqué Audi RS 6 Avant performance Daytona gray (£127,000)
4 Ivan Rakitić Audi Q7 Graphite gray (£65,000)
5 Sergio Busquets Audi R8 Coupé V10 plus Daytona gray (£192,000)
6 Denis Suárez Audi Q7 Glacier white (£65,000)
8 Andrés Iniesta Audi SQ7 TDI Glacier white (£100,000)
9 Luis Suárez Audi RS 6 Avant performance Daytona gray (£127,000)
10 Lionel Messi Audi RS 6 Avant performance Sepang blue (£127,000)
11 Ousmane Dembélé Audi RS3 Sportback Panther black (£56,000)
13 Jasper Cillessen Audi Q7 Ink blue (£65,000)
14 Philippe Coutinho Audi Q7 3.0 TDI (£65,000)
17 Paco Alcácer Audi RS3 Sportback Panther black (£56,000)
18 Jordi Alba Audi Q7 Sepang blue (£65,000)
20 Sergi Roberto Audi RS3 Sportback Catalunya red (£56,000)
21 André Gomes Audi Q7 Florett silver (£65,000)
22 Aleix Vidal Audi R8 Spyder V10 Tango red (£185,000)
23 Samuel Umtiti Audi RS3 Sportback Catalunya red (£56,000)
24 Yerry Mina Audi Q7 3.0 TDI (£65,000)
25 Thomas Vermaelen Audi Q7 Florett silver (£65,000)
Coach Ernesto Valverde Audi Q7 e-tron quattro Florett silver (£65,000)
Barca fan David Munoz told SunSport: “There are people here every day who come to see the players arrive, and hope they stop and sign an autograph.
“They don’t stop very often though.
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“This season they always seem to arrive in their club Audis, but last year Messi was often in his Range Rover, Iniesta would show up in his Porsche and Rakitic had a Mini.
“Some of the players turned up in some older cars you’d never look twice at, and maybe that’s why. If you don’t want to get noticed, don’t drive around in a Ferrari!”
Supercars are a familiar sight on the streets of Barcelona with locals unsurprised to see Messi dash by in a Maserati, Suarez in a Lamborghini or Pique in an Aston Martin.
But their Audis are their daily ride and FC Barcelona, who face Chelsea this month in the Champions League knock out stage, took delivery of a couple of dozen new motors for the first team squad and high ranking staff in November.
Audi’s Christian Guenthner added: “The Barca players are expected to use their car to get to and from training.
“For official business occasions they use their Audi. During the selection process Audi and the club work hand in hand. Players can choose from the whole range of models, usually starting with smaller cars for the younger players.
“They each get to choose a new model every season with a lot of optional extras. And with our Audi Exclusive catalogue options, there are infinitely many possibilities.”
Audi have had a deal with the Catalan club since 2006, and the German car giant also has deals with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Every new season sees the players get a brand new car but it also sees a second-hand Messi model on the market.
“Is there a chance to buy one of these cars after the players used them?” added Guenthner.
“Yes, it’s possible to get one of the cars on the official Audi used-car market.
“But we do not tag them as player A or player B’s car.
“In many cases the players or their families and friends buy them.
“And, in fact when Neymar left for Paris, he bought his club Audi RS7 and took it with him!”