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Messi’s first Barca contract signed on napkin set for auction

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The informal agreement between Lionel Messi and Barcelona, initially scribbled on a napkin, is slated for auction by Bonhams, a London-based auction house, from March 18-27. 

An Argentine player agent, Horacio Gaggioli, and the current owner of the napkin, has set a starting price of £300,000.

The agreement, forged on December 14, 2000, arose from Barcelona director Carles Rexach’s urgency to secure the then 13-year-old Messi, following his impressive two-week trial in September of the same year. 

Despite initial reservations about signing a young, non-European player, Rexach was adamant about Messi’s potential.

Gaggioli recounted the circumstances leading to the agreement, stating to The Athletic last year, “If they could not commit to signing Messi, the teenager would be offered to other clubs, including Real Madrid.” 

This prompted Rexach to arrange a dinner meeting with Gaggioli in Barcelona to finalize the deal, leading to the unconventional napkin agreement.

The napkin, signed by Rexach, football agents Minguella, and Gaggioli, bears witness to the commitment to sign Messi despite opposition, under the condition that the agreed-upon fees were maintained. Ian Ehling of Bonhams New York reflected on the profound impact of the napkin, acknowledging its pivotal role in shaping Messi’s career and Barcelona’s legacy.

Gaggioli described the moment as “marvellous,” emphasizing the significance of the napkin as a legal document integral to Messi’s journey. He expressed his intent to preserve its historical value, stating, “The napkin will always be at my side. I live in Andorra, and I’ve kept the napkin in a safe inside a bank.”

Regarding the auction, Josep Maria Minguella, another signatory on the napkin, expressed a desire for the proceeds to benefit Barcelona’s foundation. 

 

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