Barcelona has taken legal action against a Spanish newspaper for publishing information about the club’s 2020 contract negotiations with Lionel Messi. El Mundo published on Wednesday a list of demands Messi made to the club as he entered the final year of his contract at Camp Nou.
Messi demanded that his release clause be reduced to €10,000 (a symbolic amount), that he and Luis Suarez’s families be given private boxes at Camp Nou, that he be guaranteed the return of any deferred wages, and that his brother Rodrigo be paid commission for his agent work, retroactive to when it was earned.
Specifically, the Catalan club issued the following statement in response to El Mundo’s publication of the aforementioned information: “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.”
When the media in question claims to have “access to a huge quantity of papers and emails that are part of the Barcagate inquiry,” the club takes issue with the claim because it has not yet been made public.
Barcelona condemn Lionel Messi's contract leak and threaten legal action https://t.co/Ay3nB7sy8Q
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) September 22, 2022
“In any event, the article in question discloses information that is irrelevant to the present litigation and its distribution is an insult to the club’s reputation and confidentially. As a result, the legal team at Barcelona is considering what steps to take under the law to safeguard the club’s interests.
The former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board of directors are currently embroiled in a court dispute known as “Barcagate,” which centers on allegations of improper payments to third parties, violations of club procedures, and attacks on club legends.
While Messi is not directly involved and his previous contract is not at issue, police did seize emails sent and received during extension negotiations and used them as evidence in the Barcagate case.
The contents of those emails were published in El Mundo on Wednesday. According to the Spanish newspaper’s report, Messi was seeking a €10 million signing bonus, a three-year contract running through 2023, and a free-market extension option through 2024.
El Mundo previously reported that Messi’s annual compensation was around €70 million and that he was willing to delay 20% of this amount from 2020-21 in exchange for assurances that he would be paid back the deferred sums in subsequent years with interest.
Later that year, following an 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich, Messi requested a transfer via burofax, a sort of recorded delivery; nonetheless, he did not leave for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer until 2021.
Even though he and Barca’s new president, Joan Laporta, had agreed on a new contract in 2021—including a 50% pay cut—the club could not afford to register it with LaLiga, and Bartomeu had never given his requests the go-ahead the year before.