Messi’s napkin to be auctioned for £300,000

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The napkin on which Lionel Messi’s inaugural Barcelona contract was signed at the age of 13 is set to go up for auction, commencing with a starting bid of £300,000.

The napkin, dated December 2000, bears the signatures of then-Barcelona director Carles Rexach, committing to sign Lionel Messi.

Additionally, Josep Minguella, a transfer advisor to the club, and agent Horacio Gaggioli, who recommended the Argentine, also signed the document.

A month later, Messi officially joined Barcelona and subsequently became the club’s all-time leading goal scorer.

Making his debut at the age of 16, Messi netted 672 goals in 778 appearances for the Catalan side.

Now aged 36, Messi accumulated 10 La Liga and four Champions League titles with Barcelona before departing for Paris St-Germain in 2021.

The napkin was signed during a meeting organized by Rexach, who invited Messi’s father Jorge to lunch in response to concerns raised by the Messi family about a lack of communication from Barcelona following the teenager’s initial trial.

In blue ink, the inscription on the napkin states: “In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000, and in the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, solemnly commits, under his responsibility and notwithstanding any differing views, to sign the player Lionel Messi, provided that we adhere to the agreed-upon terms.”

The napkin is set to be auctioned through the British auction house Bonhams in March.

Head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams Ian Ehling said: “This is one of the most thrilling items I have ever handled.

“Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Lionel Messi’s career.

“It changed the life of Messi, the future of FC Barcelona, and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of football to billions of fans around the globe.”