The Legendary Napkin: Lionel Messi’s Journey to Barcelona

In a surprising turn of events, the auction for the napkin that kickstarted Lionel Messi’s illustrious career at Barcelona has stirred up quite a controversy. With a guide price ranging from £300,000 to £500,000, the bidding for this historic item has already reached £220,000. The sale, managed by the British auction house Bonhams, is slated to remain open until May 17. Initially scheduled for March, the auction was postponed due to a dispute over the ownership of the napkin, which has been in the possession of Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli for the past two decades.

The napkin in question holds a pivotal agreement that was hastily penned on December 14, 2000, at a tennis club in Barcelona. With Messi’s father, Jorge, expressing doubts about Barcelona’s commitment to his son, the club’s then-director of football, Carles Rexach, scrambled to put together a deal on a mere napkin. Signed by Rexach, Josep Minguella, who facilitated Messi’s move from Argentina, and Horacio Gaggioli, who played a key role in brokering the deal, the napkin served as a promise for Messi’s first contract.

Despite attempts to incorporate the napkin into Barcelona’s museum located at the iconic Camp Nou stadium, negotiations fell through. The historic document, which bears the signatures of the key players behind Messi’s transfer, has been stored in a secure vault in Andorra, a principality nestled between Spain and France.

From that fateful moment on the napkin, Lionel Messi went on to become Barcelona’s most decorated player. With a record number of appearances (778) and goals (672) for the club, Messi etched his name in football history. Over his two-decade-long tenure with Barcelona, he clinched an impressive 10 LaLiga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies, and four Champions League triumphs. Individually, Messi holds the record for winning the Ballon d’Or eight times and has been named The Best FIFA Men’s Player on three occasions.

While Messi’s success with Barcelona is well-documented, his international accolades had previously eluded him. However, in a momentous turn of events, Messi secured the Copa América title in 2021 and the coveted World Cup in 2022 with Argentina. These victories added to his collection of accolades, including the Olympic Gold Medal he won in 2008.

The unassuming napkin that bears the weight of Messi’s transfer agreement serves as a poignant reminder of the twists and turns in the football world. From frantic negotiations at a tennis club to global stardom on the pitch, Lionel Messi’s journey encapsulates the essence of determination and success in the beautiful game of football.


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