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Lionel Messi’s contract details becoming public knowledge was not the fault of Barcelona, the LaLiga club have claimed.

A report by El Mundo claimed the deal Messi signed at Camp Nou in 2017, which expires at the end of this season, is worth more than €555million over the course of four years.

That would mean the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is in possession of the most lucrative contract in sports history – something that jars against Barcelona’s worsening financial plight.

Accounts for the 2019-20 season showed the club’s gross debt had reached €820m as the coronavirus pandemic began to take a considerable toll on their finances.

A fractious presidential election is set to conclude in March, with a strained relationship between Messi and the former board, headed by ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu, having played a part in the superstar forward sensationally trying to force a transfer away from Barcelona last August.

In that context, Barca moved quickly on Sunday to offer assurances to their captain and pledged to take legal action against El Mundo.

“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,” a statement read.

“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.”

Barcelona return to action on Sunday at home to Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga, where they remain 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid despite a run of four consecutive top-flight wins.

Messi, who was red carded for the first time in his Barca career against Athletic earlier this month, has contributed 15 goals and four assists in all competitions in 2020-21.

 

Photo: Gettyimages

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