Paulo Henrique Santos — better known as Paulinho — hit a tree after losing control of his supercar on a wet road.
The supercar slammed into a tree in BrazilCredit: Unknown, clear with photo office
The 27-year-old, who plays for Chinese Super League club Shanghai Port as a winger, escaped a serious injury.
But the front of his McLaren 600LT is now off the road after the front of the vehicle was shattered and he was nearly written off.
Santos, who compared his style of play to that of Messi eight years ago when he signed for Spanish side Cordoba, has been identified after being filmed by a passerby standing in front of his damaged pride and joy under the rain in his native Ceilandia in Brazil — where the accident happened while he was on vacation.
He told Brazilian media in an interview he gave alongside his glamorous wife Daiany Naiara that he was already planning to buy a replacement for the car he wrecked, which has a top speed of 204mph and can hit 100 mph in just 9.7 seconds.
The 27-year-old, whose full name is Paulo Henrique Soares dos Santos but who is better known in Brazil by his nickname Paulinho, said: “We are already looking at another McLaren. We have photos and videos of the one we love.
His wife adds: “He really likes this car and dreams of buying another one.
“The one he crashed can be fixed, but they would have to import the parts and it would cost a lot of money to fix.
“It would also take time and energy and Paulinho has to focus on his football and be a good professional.”
In addition to the radiator and bonnet, the car’s fans were also damaged.
Local reports say it was worth around £467,000 and the cost of repairing the McLaren was estimated to be around £145,000, equivalent to the price of 20 station wagons in Brazil.
The footballer, who joined Port Shanghai in July last year after a loan spell at Portugal’s top side Porto, has denied claims by witnesses that he was driving too fast when he left the road, and said the wet road with rain had been the problem as he tried to accelerate ahead of a slower vehicle.
He insisted: “People have talked about me going 110 miles an hour but if that was true I wouldn’t be here to tell the story.
“The most important thing is that I’m fine.”
Daiany added: “The road was wet and Paulinho was not going as fast as some claimed. It was rather because of the rain that the car skidded and went up the sidewalk in the grass.
Paulinho made headlines in Spain by comparing himself to Barcelona legend Messi when he signed for Córdoba in 2013.
The Spanish press reported at the time that he claimed during his official presentation that his style was “a bit similar to Messi’s, but not exactly the same because of his pace”.
He said at the time: “I hope to give the fans a lot of happiness and score a lot of goals to get us into the Premier League.”