FC Barcelona to sue Spanish newspaper after it published details of Messi’s $670 million contract
FC Barcelona is to take legal action against Spanish newspaper El Mundo after it published leaked details of Lionel Messi’s 555 million euro ($670 million) contract with the club.
On Sunday, El Mundo published documents relating to Messi’s most recent Barca deal, which was signed in 2017 and runs until June 2021.
The report claims the deal to be worth 555 euro million once all add-ons are met, making it the biggest contract ever signed by an athlete.
“In view of the information published today in the newspaper El Mundo, in relation to the professional contract signed between FC Barcelona and the player Lionel Messi, the club regrets its publication given that it is a private document governed by the principle of confidentiality between the parties,” Barcelona said in a statement on Sunday.
According to ESPN, only four copies of the contract in question exist, which are owned by Messi himself, Barcelona, La Liga, and the Argentine’s law firm.
“FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication,” the club’s statement continued.
“FC Barcelona expresses its absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the entity where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history.”
El Mundo’s report on Messi comes just days after it published a piece claiming that Barcelona is on the “verge on bankruptcy” after the club released figures showing it has $1.4 billion in debt.
In its report on Messi’s contract, El Mundo suggested the 33-year-old’s mega-money deal has helped “ruin” the club’s finances.
After Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, in which Messi scored his 650th Barca goal, manager Ronald Koeman said such claims were false.
“I don’t understand why they say he’s ruined Barca,” Koeman said. “He’s spent years and years showing his quality as a footballer. We must highlight what he’s done for this club.
“He’s helped make this club great and we have to stop with all this contract nonsense.”
The Dutchman also said that he believes the leak was done “with malicious intent to do damage.”
“More respect should be shown to a player that’s given so much to Spanish football. We must try and find out how the contract has come out in the press,” he said. “They are things that cannot come out. There are people that want to do us damage.
“If the leak is from within the club, that’s very bad. If someone from inside the club has leaked it, they cannot have a future at the club.”
Messi, who accepted a salary cut when the coronavirus pandemic first hit in March, is free to leave Barcelona this summer.