Lionel Messi is reportedly ready to sue as many as five ‘suspects’ that he believes may have leaked his €555,237,619 Barcelona contract.
The five men in question are former president Josep Maria Bartomeu; former vice-president, Jordi Mestre; CEO Òscar Grau; interim president, Carles Tusquets; and the head of the club’s legal services, Romàn Gómez Ponti.
On Sunday, Spanish newspaper El Mundo dramatically published the full details of the Argentine superstar’s mega-money contract at the Nou Camp.
Messi signed the deal in 2017 and it will end this June when the 33-year-old will be able to leave for nothing.
The significant leak revealed that the combination of fixed salary, image rights, variables and tax Barcelona will have to pay on the contract amounts to €555,237,619 over its duration.
Messi and his camp have been left incensed by the leak of such confidential financial data and Catalan radio show RAC1 report that the player is now looking into legal action.
Bartomeu, who resigned from the club last October and whose relationship with Messi soured when he wasn’t allowed to leave last summer, has already spoken publicly to distance himself from the leak.
‘It’s completely false [I was involved in the leak],’ Bartomeu told TV3 in Spain.
‘This is a very serious issue because it’s completely illegal to leak any professional contract to the media.
‘It’s easy to make accusations but this is not a joke and it’s going to end up in court.
‘Messi deserves everything he earns, be that for professional or commercial reasons. Without the pandemic, Barcelona would be more than capable of paying those numbers.’
Mestre, who resigned from his position after nine years with the club in April 2019, also distanced himself from the leaked contract and said he discovered the story ‘in the press’ in an interview with Cadena SER radio.
‘Messi’s helped the club bring in much more revenue. Whoever says his contract has ruined Barça either has no idea or is acting in bad faith – or both,’ the former vice-president said.
‘It surprises me. It’s super confidential. It’s the first time a contract has been leaked and I don’t understand why. I have not spoken with Bartomeu of this subject. I have found out through the press.’
Grau, CEO at the time Messi signed the deal, ‘categorically denies’ any involvement and claimed on Catalan radio show Esport3 that ‘there are many external people who also have the contract and may have leaked it’.
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman was left furious at the story of the leaked contract and called on the club to sack whoever they discover responsible amid calls for an internal investigation.
Revealing Messi to be the highest-paid sportsman of all-time by some distance, the contract guarantees the player €138m a season in gross salary.
He earned a ‘renewal fee’ of €115m as a signing on bonus and is said to take home €79m each year in a ‘loyalty’ bonus for staying at the Nou Camp.
With five months left on the deal, Messi has already earned an eye-watering €511m.