Messi's leak embarrassment leaves the Argentine scratching his head

Lionel Messi is planning legal action and Barcelona want to sue over the leak that revealed his £492MILLION contract… and now there are big questions over who tried to take him down and if it will lead to an ugly end

  • The details of Lionel Messi’s Barcelona deal have been published by El Mundo
  • They revealed the Argentine’s £102m renewal fee and £122m-per-year salary
  • It points the finger at Messi amid Barcelona’s miserable financial situation   
  • The club and it’s greatest player are now left wondering who made the leak  

The El Mundo story detailing large parts of Lionel Messi’s contract with Barcelona has infuriated the player, embarrassed Barcelona, and left everyone asking the same questions: who leaked the contract and why?

The eye-watering €115m (£102m) renewal fee jumped out from the pages of El Mundo but much of the rest of the detailed breakdown of the deal he signed back in November 2017 was already taken as read. 

For a long time the 33-year-old’s top global earner status on 100m euros gross a year was accepted, El Mundo have it at £122m.

Lionel Messi has been the subject of an infuriating contract leak, published by El Mundo

The story detailed Messi’s earning and Barcelona’s financial situation, edging close to ruin  

But the bigger question it raised was how El Mundo got hold of a contract between the player and the club. Barcelona hurriedly issued a statement saying: ‘The club regrets the publication given that it’s a private document governed by the principal of confidentiality between the parties.’

It went on: ‘FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication and will take the appropriate legal action against El Mundo for any damage that may be caused as a result.’

It highlights the way Messi’s relationship with the club has nose-dived to an all-time low over the last 12 months that it was even necessary to distance themselves from the story and put to bed the suggestion that they were behind a 10-page story that basically pinned Barcelona’s current situation – teetering on the edge of financial implosion – on him. 

Messi looks set to leave Barcelona this summer after a miserable end to his Nou Camp fairytale

‘The Messi contract that is the ruin of Barça’ headline was anything but subtle.

The Messi camp has also briefed suggesting legal action will be taken. He plays for Barcelona tonight at the Camp Nou where it’s even possible he will choose to speak after the game.

Prime suspects in the search for those who leaked the story will be those who ran the club before president Josep Bartomeu stepped down at the end of last October. Currently their prints are all over Barcelona’s accounting apocalypse. 

Some of the blame has been apportioned to the pandemic but they are still seen as the board that has taken Barça to the brink of having to consider opening the doors to private investment beyond just sponsorship.

Shifting the blame onto Messi doorstep – we’re in the mire pal because you have squeezed the club dry – is one way of easing the weight of responsibility on them. 

Messi was feuding with former president Josep Bartomeu, who will be among Messi’s suspects

Messi has certainly done little to hide his disdain for the administration that packed its files up and left the offices of the Camp Nou three months ago.

Also feasible is that those who want him to leave the club now will have gained by him being portrayed as leach on the club’s failing finances. 

Joan Laporta is the favourite to win the election on March 7 to vote in a new president and he made it clear in an interview with MailSport this month that he will do everything he can to persuade Messi to stay. Other candidates have been less sure of Messi’s place in the club’s immediate future.

Some in Spain questioned the timing of the revelations and wondered if Real Madrid’s sporting failures might also have inspired the exclusive. 

Much as it will have done them a favour to have had the spotlight taken off their third league defeat of the season on Saturday and the fact that they have lost the Spanish Super Cup, been knocked out of the Spanish Cup and slipped away from title contention all in one month, it’s still far-fetched in the extreme that El Mundo quickly threw together a 10-page special investigation to stop people talking about Real Madrid 1-2 Levante.

Questions over the timing of the story during Real Madrid’s slump in form have been raised 

Barcelona have spent obscene amounts on replacing Neymar but have failed to find success

As for the supporters of the club, many sprung to the defence of the Barcelona captain. 

Is it the 550m the club has paid him (half of which went to the tax man) that has broken them, or the close to 400m in transfer fees spent on Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann?

Has he really ruined the club? Barcelona had won just one European Cup before Messi arrived. Now they have won five. 

They have won ten leagues in his 16 years at the club. Barcelona have rode on the shoulders of Messi to reach the summit of global football brand recognition. He’s made them number one. 

If this does really turn out to be his final few months at Barcelona it is a very ugly end to what had been the club’s most beautiful story.

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