Barcelona have threatened to take legal action against a Spanish newspaper over details of the club’s contract negotiations with Lionel Messi.
On Wednesday, El Mundo claimed Messi made a number of requests before he would renew his deal at the Nou Camp in the summer of 2020.
However, Barcelona said the leaked information was part of a judicial procedure.
Lionel Messi’s eye-watering demands to stay at Barcelona in 2020 have now been revealed
‘In relation to the information published in El Mundo under the title ‘Barca Leaks, the club’s secret files’, Barcelona express indignation at the intentional leaking of information that is part of a legal process,’ the Catalan club said in a statement.
‘The club regrets that the media in question boasts of having ‘access to a huge number of documents and emails that are part of the Barcagate investigation’ when this information is yet to be shared.
‘In any case, the article in question makes public documents that have nothing to do with the ongoing case and their use is an affront to the reputation and confidentiality of the club. For that reason, and with the aim of protecting Barcelona’s rights, the club’s legal department are studying the legal measures that need to be taken.’
Messi left Barcelona for PSG in 2021 – but before his departure, he had requested a signing-on bonus of £8.7million and a private jet to fly his family back to Argentina every Christmas
The veteran superstar left the Spanish giants in summer 2021 after 21 years at the club, joining Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer when his contract expired.
And according to revelations from El Mundo on Tuesday evening, Messi’s stipulations to stay at cash-strapped Barcelona included a massive signing-on bonus of £8.7million and a private jet to fly his family back to Argentina at Christmas.
He also requested a luxury executive box at the Nou Camp for his family and the family of former Barca team-mate Luis Suarez, with the security of a three-year deal until 2023 plus an option to extend.
He also requested a luxury executive box at Barca’s Nou Camp stadium for both his family and the family of then-team mate Luis Suarez (second right)
MESSI’S CONTRACT DEMANDS IN 2020
- £8.7million signing-on bonus
- £8,700 release clause
- Three-year deal with option to extend
- Luxury executive box at the Nou Camp for his and Luis Suarez’ family
- 10 per cent salary increase in 2021-22 and 2022-23, plus three per cent annual interest
- Private jet to fly his family to and from Argentina every Christmas
Other demands made in June 2020 included lowering his buyout clause from £610m to a nominal fee of just £8,700 – almost negligible given the money in today’s market.
And after accepting a 20 per cent pay cut in 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he asked for his net salary of £65m a year to be increased to £71.5m a year for the next two seasons, plus three per cent in annual interest.
The information was recovered from emails between Jorge Messi, Lionel’s father and representative, the 35-year-old’s legal team, and Barcelona chiefs including then-president Josep Bartomeu.
El Mundo report Barcelona accepted all of Messi’s demands except two: refusing to lower his release clause to £8,700 and making the £8.7m signing-on bonus conditional on the club returning to their pre-pandemic income, which was and is unlikely given their well-publicised financial issues.
Due to this, the 162-cap international quit negotiations, culminating the infamous ‘Burofax’ sent to the club to inform them of his desire to leave.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo had previously leaked the details of Messi’s gargantuan £492m (€555m) contract – the biggest in sports history – taking into account fixed salary, image rights, variables and tax.
Lionel Messi’s last Barcelona contract cost the cash-strapped club around a whopping £492m
The figure was revealed by Spanish newspaper El Mundo, outlining Barcelona’s financial woes
The deal guaranteed him £122m a season in gross salary, a ‘renewal fee’ of £102m for accepting the contract and a take-home ‘loyalty’ bonus of £69m a year for staying at the Nou Camp.
Other variables included Messi banking another £1.75m if he played 60 per cent of games, while he would receive extra payments each knockout stage of the Champions League he reached, as well as for winning LaLiga and the Copa del Rey.
The leak has infuriated Messi’s camp who said they would be looking to prepare a lawsuit against El Mundo as a result, according to RAC1.
Clauses in that contract reportedly included Barcelona demanding Messi should ‘integrate into Catalan society and culture’, as the club did their all to to improve Messi’s grasp of the Catalan language.
Ex-Barca president Josep Bartomeu (right) and Messi shake hands at the 2017 contract signing
The contract also stated Messi must ‘adopt a suitable personal conduct and rhythm of life’ and not to ever engage in doping.
Finally, it was astonishingly revealed there was an agreement in the contract that would allow Messi to become a free agent if Catalonia gained independence, with Barcelona set to be kicked out of LaLiga to play in a Catalan league.
It was agreed in the contract that if that was the case – with Catalonia having pushed for independence from Spain back in 2017 – then the six-time Ballon d’Or winner would automatically be able to leave for free.
Uruguayan striker Suarez, now at Nacional, slammed El Mundo for leaking the details.
Uruguayan striker Suarez hit out at the ‘evil’ people who leaked Messi’s contract details in 2021
In February 2021, he told Onda Cero: ‘I was surprised to read Messi’s contract in the press. I don’t understand that there are people who have so much evil. What Barcelona is today is thanks to Leo.’
Suarez’s comments came in the aftermath of his recent backing of Messi, and insistence that the Argentine ace will retire whenever he wants and completely dictate his own future in football.
Suarez told El Transistor: ‘He is [playing] at a spectacular level, he is the best in the world. Messi will retire wherever he wants, he can decide whether it’s at Barcelona, in Argentina or wherever.’
Suarez himself was one of the victims of Barca’s struggles, after being forced out of the Nou Camp in summer 2020 as the Catalan giants tried desperately to cut an inflated wage bill.