Barcelona reveals that they are ready to take legal action after the publication of Lionel Messi’s €555 million (£491m/$674m) contract.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo leaked documents disclosing the terms of Messi’s recent deal at Camp Nou, which is due to expire at the end of June.
Their report notes that the four-year contract, which the Argentine signed in 2017, includes fixed incomes and bonus payments which accumulate to €138m (£112m/$167m) in annual earnings.
Messi has already pocketed €510m (£452m/$619m), with a further €45m (£40m/$55m) set to come his way over the next six months, with El Mundo revealed that the 33-year-old is the best-paid athlete in the history of professional sport.
The club captain has been bent on to end his 17-year career at Camp Nou this summer, with Barca reportedly unable to continue paying his lucrative wages amid increasing debts exceeding over €1.2 billion.
Blaugrana chiefs have now announced their desire to sue El Mundo for releasing Messi’s contract to the public without their permission and also criticizing attempts to defame Messi’s character and image.
“In view of the evidence published today in the newspaper El Mundo, about the contract signed between FC Barcelona and their star player Lionel Messi, the club bemoans its publication given that it is a private document organized by the principle of confidentiality between the parties,” a statement on Barca’s official website reads.
“FC Barcelona categorically denies any accountability for the publication of this document and will take proper legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any defect that may be caused as a result of this publication.
“FC Barcelona expresses its absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any endeavour to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the club where he has worked to become the best player in the world and football history.”
Messi was denied a transfer last summer after he decided to trigger the release clause in his contract, with the Argentina international eventually pledging to stay put for the duration of the 2020-21 campaign out of his love for Barca and their fans.
However, speculation over his future has just increased since then, and although the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has been connected with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, he has also opened the door to a potential switch to MLS before hanging up his boots.