Barcelona have threatened to take legal action against Spanish news outlet El Mundo after details of their contract negotiations with Lionel Messi were leaked.
Messi, 35, ended his trophy-laden 21-year career at Camp Nou in the summer of 2021 and joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer upon the expiration of his contract.
However, El Mundo revealed on Wednesday that the legendary forward made as many as nine requests before he would agree to renew his deal in 2020.
The report states that Messi wanted a three-year contract extension and demanded a €10m (£8.7m) renewal bonus, while he also requested for his release clause to be significantly reduced from €700m (£610m) to just €10,000 (£8,700).
In the midst of Barca’s financial turmoil during the coronavirus pandemic, Messi also wanted his deferred wages paid back to him with an interest of 3%, and demanded for his net salary to be increased from £65m a year to £71.5m a year over the next two seasons.
Other requested included a commission paid to his brother Rodrigo Messi for his work as an agent, a private box at Camp Nou for his family and Luis Suarez‘s family, a private jet to fly his family back to Argentina at Christmas and for his personal assistant Pepe Costa to continue in his role.
Barcelona allegedly accepted all of Messi’s demands except for two: refusing to pay his £8.7m signing bonus as well as lowering his release clause.
The Catalan giants have since released a strong statement expressing their fury and have said that the leaked information will be part of a judicial procedure.
A statement read: “In relation to the information published in El Mundo under the title ‘Barca Leaks, the club’s secret files’, Barcelona express indignation at the intentional leaking of information that is part of a legal process.
“The club regrets that the media in question boasts of having ‘access to a huge number of documents and emails that are part of the Barcagate investigation’ when this information is yet to be shared.
“In any case, the article in question makes public documents that have nothing to do with the ongoing case and their use is an affront to the reputation and confidentiality of the club.
“For that reason, and with the aim of protecting Barcelona’s rights, the club’s legal department are studying the legal measures that need to be taken.”
The leaked information was recovered from emails sent between Messi’s legal team, his father Jorge Messi and then-Barca president Josep Bartomeu.
Following the collapse of contract talks, one email from Jorge Messi to Alfonso Nebot, a director of the office that manages the forward’s wealth, read: “Let them feel the weight of the sword on their head.”
Messi, who has less than 12 months remaining on his contract at PSG. experienced a somewhat challenging first season at the Parc des Princes, but he still managed to record 11 goals and 15 assists in 34 games across all competitions and he also won the Ligue 1 title and French Super Cup.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has since made a strong start to the new campaign, scoring six goals and providing eight assists in 11 games, and he will look to continue his form when PSG return to action against Nice on October 1.