Barcelona admit the leaked document published in the Spanish press is indeed Lionel Messi’s genuine contract.
But the Catalan giants “categorically deny” any involvement in the release of the confidential agreement.
A redacted contract published by El Mundo on Sunday showed the enormous scale of the deal Messi signed in 2017.
The Argentine superstar has already been paid £452million of the agreement which is worth a total just shy of half a billion pounds (£491million) when base salary, image rights, bonuses and many other variables are taken into account.
The release of the sensitive details of his contract is unlikely to have been welcomed by Messi.
And in response to the leak centred on their club captain, Barcelona have published a statement insisting they had no involvement and have threatened legal action against El Mundo .
The statement reads: “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.
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“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 leak could hardly come at a worse time for Barcelona, who are in the midst of a financial crisis and face paying back £236million of their £1.1billion debt by the end of June.
It could also further damage Messi’s relationship with Camp Nou chiefs. The 33-year-old made no secret of his desire to leave last summer, while earlier in the year there were accusations former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu had hired a organisation to conduct a social media smear campaign against Messi and certain other figures.
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