The 33-year-old is also “convinced” that the leak came from within the club, and his lawyers are considering legal action against the newspaper, according to Catalunya Radio.
El Mundo reported that Messi’s deal, which he signed in 2017, is the most expensive contract in sports history and is worth €555,237,619.
Journalist Fabrizio Romano crunched some of the numbers in the report.
Messi’s contract will expire in the summer, meaning he will be a free agent and able to walk away for free. A recent report suggested the captain is “now closer to staying” at Barcelona, but the contract leak is likely to have an impact on Messi’s thoughts about the future.
Barcelona’s financial situation may also play a role in the Argentine’s future. The latest financial reports have highlighted how the club has debts of over €1 billion and “is on the verge of bankruptcy,” as reported by El Mundo.
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Barcelona Issue Messi Statement
El Mundo’s report was swiftly followed by a strongly-worded statement from the Catalan giants. The club published a press release on their official website, denying responsibility and threatening legal action.
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.
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.
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.
The contract leak is the latest development in another season of turmoil for the Catalan giants. Messi asked to leave last summer but was denied an exit and later criticized former president Josep Maria Bartomeu for going back on his word in an interview with Goal’s Ruben Uria.
Bartomeu subsequently resigned but Barca are yet to install a new president. Elections were scheduled for January 24 but had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. A new date of March 7 has since been set.
Messi Set to Face Athletic
Meanwhile, Messi will get back to doing what he does best on Sunday night against Athletic at the Camp Nou. The 33-year-old makes his return to La Liga action after completing a two-match ban for a red card in the final of the Spanish Super Cup against Athletic.
The Barca captain did play in the Copa del Rey in midweek after two games out, scoring in the 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano which sent the club into the quarter-finals of the competition.
Athletic boss Marcelino told a pre-match press conference that he has already told his players how to handle Messi on Sunday.
We are not going to mark Messi individually, but we must limit his participation as much as possible and be attentive to the ball and where it can reach him. We will try to ensure that Messi has the minimum possible participation and when he does, it should be as limited as possible in time and space.
Messi may not lack for motivation given the latest developments and also because he was sent off the last time the two sides met. Yet Argentine also scored twice in a 3-2 win for Barcelona over Athletic at San Mames at the start of the year and another goal on Sunday would bring up 650 for the Argentine at Barcelona.