The stunning contract demands Lionel Messi made at FC Barcelona back in 2020 have now reportedly been leaked, with the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner even requesting a private jet, and the Blaugrana have since released a statement on the matter.
Messi's August 2021 departure from Barca was quite the shock given that club president Joan Laporta had vowed on several occasions that he would keep the player at the club, although his contract had expired at the end of June that year.
On 8 August, the 35-year-old said his goodbyes to the Catalan club in an emotional press conference, with a number of his Blaugrana teammates in attendance. Two days later, he was confirmed as Paris Saint-Germain's newest player, bringing an end to his 21-year association with the LaLiga outfit.
At this point, it had been clear to everyone that the attacker had left Spain due to his former team's insufficient finances.
The year before, though, Messi had requested to leave Barcelona in a protracted transfer saga, believing he would be allowed to depart due to a gentlemen's agreement he felt he had with then-club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, with Manchester City heavily linked with his signature at the time.
However, Bartomeu refused to sanction an exit, and Messi later agreed to discuss a new deal with Barca.
Spanish out El Mundo has now leaked the several demands the Argentina captain made in 2020 in order to sign a new contract with the Spanish giants.
It is reported that Messi wanted to sign a new three-year deal with an option to extend, and demanded that it include a £8.7 million (R173 million) signing-on bonus, plus a tiny £8 700 (R173 737) release clause.
The LaLiga giants refused to agree to lowering his buyout clause, which sat at £610 million (R12.1 billion) at the time, while the signing bonus demand was accepted only on the condition that Barca recouped their pre-pandemic income.
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Messi's contract requests also included a luxury executive box at the Camp Nou for both his and Luis Suarez' family, as well as a private jet to fly his family to and from Argentina every Christmas.
It is reported that the 2021 Copa America winner, who took a 20% pay cut in the 2020/21 campaign, also asked for his deferred wages to be repaid, and for a 10% salary increase for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons with a 3% annual interest, which would see his £65 million (R1.2 billion) yearly earnings increase to £71.5 million (R1.4 billion).
It is further claimed that he asked for his personal assistant Pepe Costa, who had been provided by the club, to continue in his position during the coronavirus pandemic, and for his brother Rodrigo to receive a commission for him to sign the deal.
Barcelona have since responded to the leaked information.
"In relation to the information published today in El Mundo del Siglo XXI under the title 'Barça Leaks, the Club's secret files part 1', FC Barcelona expresses its indignation at the intentional leaking of information that is part of a legal process," a statement on the club's official website read.
"The Club regrets that the media in question boasts of having 'access to a huge amount of documents and e-mails that are part of the Barcagate investigation' when this information is yet to be shared. "In any case, the article in question makes public documents that have noting to do with the ongoing case and their use is an affront to the reputation and confidentiality of the Club.
"For that reason, and with the aim of protecting FC Barcelona's rights, the Club's legal department are studying the legal measures that need to be taken."
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