Napkin that sealed 13-year-old Messi's Barcelona move sells for £762,000

By Isaac M May 18, 2024

A paper napkin that sealed Lionel Messi’s move to Barcelona has been sold for £762,400.

It contains a pledge, written in 2000, that the player would move to the legendary Catalan club.

The starting price was £300,000 ahead of Friday’s online auction, run by Bonhams.

Messi was 13 at the time the napkin was signed and had been on trial with Barcelona, but his father was reportedly frustrated at the club’s lack of commitment to him.

Sporting director Carles Rexach pulled out the napkin during a meal with Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli and Barcelona’s transfer adviser, Josep Minguella.

Pic: PA
Pic: PA

Rexach wrote: “In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and 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.”

They all signed the 16.5cm square napkin – and the same night Barcelona president Joan Gaspart confirmed the deal.

“Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Lionel Messi’s career,” said Ian Ehling, from Bonhams New York.

“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.”

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Messi, regarded by many as the best footballer ever, eventually scored 672 goals for Barcelona, winning the Champions League four times and 10 La Liga titles.

He became a sporting megastar during his years with the club before leaving for PSG and now plays for Inter Miami in the US.

The Argentine also finally achieved his ambition of lifting the World Cup in 2022.


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