Napkin which helped bring 13-year-old Messi to Barcelona up for auction

The napkin which helped bring Lionel Messi to Barcelona more than 20 years ago is up for auction.

The unusual document, which has become something of a legend in the world of football, is being offered at Bonhams in an online auction until May 17 on behalf of Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli, with a starting price of £300,000.

Messi had been on trial with Barcelona in September 2000 as a 13-year-old but by December his father Jorge had reportedly become frustrated by the club’s lack of commitment to his son.

Lionel Messi napkin sale
The napkin is on display at Bonhams in London throughout the auction (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Rexach wrote upon the napkin: “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.”

The napkin was signed by Rexach, Minguella and Gaggioli. That night, Barcelona president Joan Gaspart confirmed the agreement.

Lionel Messi went on to score 672 goals for Barcelona
Messi scored 672 goals for Barcelona and helped them win a string of titles (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ian Ehling, head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams New York, 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.

Lionel Messi napkin sale
The starting price for the napkin is £300,000 (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Messi, who currently plays for Inter Miami in the MLS, has eight Ballon d’Or awards to his name, and won the World Cup with Argentina in 2022.

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