What was written on Lionel Messi's first-ever Barcelona contract scribbled on a napkin
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Lionel Messi’s first-ever Barcelona contract was written on a napkin.
Across Messi’s career, the pint-sized Argentine boasts 721 club goals, 344 club assists, 10 La Liga titles, eight Ballon d’Ors, seven Spanish Cups, four Champions League, a Copa America and a World Cup.
Such accolades have seen Messi enter the conversation regarding the best player of all time.
Of course, the story of Messi's trophy-laden career started when the attacker was just 13. In September 2000, a diminutive but immensely talented youngster arrived in Barcelona from his native Rosario and wowed the Barcelona hierarchy.
But while Messi was promised a deal when he and his family returned to Argentina, the decision on whether or not the Blaugrana would sign the youngster didn't come until December when several Barcelona officials and those with ties to the club met for lunch.
According to Spanish publication, Sport, Barcelona technical secretary Carles Rexach and Horacio Gaggioli, Messi's contact in Spain, played tennis and then had lunch with Josep Maria Minguella, another agent with links to the Catalan giants.
Barca's then president Joan Gaspart reportedly thought there were some risks in signing Messi.
However, Rexach reportedly elected to write out the following contract on the napkin, which was then signed by all three members present: "In Barcelona, on December 14, 2000, and in the presence of Messrs. Minguella and Horacio, Carlos Rexach, Technical Secretary of F.C.B. is committed under his responsibility and despite some opinions against signing the player Lionel Messi as long as we maintain the agreed amounts."
This picture here is of a 13 y.o. Lionel Messi's first professional contract; on a paper napkin. Carles Rexach, Barcelona's manager, didn't have any paper nearby, but his urgency to sign Messi made him write the contract on a napkin lying around him.— Iconic Football Photos™ (@IconicFP) August 8, 2018
[14 Dec, 2000; Barcelona] #7 pic.twitter.com/vyhcTOiwbC
Everything became official from then on, with Messi turning out for Barcelona’s youth sides, C and B teams before making the grade at first-team level in a friendly against Jose Mourinho’s Porto when he was just 16 years, four months, and 23 days old.
Messi went on to make 778 appearances for Barcelona, scoring 672 goals and registering 303 assists, before dramatically leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2021.