Lionel Messi’s historic Barcelona contract napkin auction set to begin with a £300,000 starting price

Lionel Messi is one of the best players to have graced the pitch, and over the years, he has signed several mammoth contracts that have seen him play for Barcelona and PSG.

Following his stints with the Spanish and French clubs, he rejected a contract at Al Hilal, which would have seen him earn over a billion euros. But none of them are as iconic as the “Napkin Contract” that saw him join the Blaugrana.

Lionel Messi’s Barcelona napkin to be auctioned

A 16.5 x 16.5 cm napkin is now being put up for auction on behalf of Horacio Gaggioli, Messi’s agent, who brought him to Spain. The napkin was written on in blue ballpoint ink by Barcelona’s Director of Football Carles Rexach and is one of the most unique and coveted pieces of memorabilia in all of football. The napkin is set to be put under auction online by Bonham’s in March, with the starting price of 300,000 pounds.

The content of the napkin says,”In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and in the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, hereby agrees, under his responsibility and regardless of any dissenting opinions, to sign the player Lionel Messi, provided that we keep to the amounts agreed upon.”

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Carlos Rexach (left), the man who signed Messi with a napkin and a ball point pen (via The Coaches’ Voice).

“Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Messi’s career. It changed the life of Messi, the future of Barça and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of football to billions of fans around the globe,” said Ian Ehling, the Head of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams New York.

There were talks of the napkin going to Barcelona’s own club museum but talks failed and hence, the napkin will now be put up for auction.

How did Lionel Messi join Barcelona?

In the year of 2000, Barcelona’s Director of Football was Carles Rexach. He was interested in signing a certain Argentine by the name of “Lionel Messi.” However, due to the lack of paperwork being readily available, he in a moment of haste, used a piece of napkin and made a makeshift contract out of it.

“It was the only thing I had available to hand. I saw the only way to relax Jorge was signing something, giving him some proof, so I asked for a napkin from the waiter,” Rexach told ESPN in 2020.

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Lionel Messi’s La Masia ID Card (via GOAL).

Recalling to that moment, Rexach also said, “I told Jorge (Lionel Messi’s father) that my signature was there and that there were witnesses, that with my name I would take direct responsibility, there was nothing else to talk about and to be patient for a few days. Leo could already consider himself a Barca player.”

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Lionel Messi during his La Masia days (via FC Barcelona).

The world of football might not have seen Messi’s brilliance if it weren’t for this very napkin! Messi went on to score 672 goals from his 778 outings, winning 10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey and four Champions League trophies for Barcelona.


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