MADRID (AP) – Barcelona finally put together a hot streak of games to give fans hope of some success this season.
However, his off-field troubles are far from over as the club now tries to prove that it is fully behind Lionel Messi after the embarrassing leak of his contract.
The team defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 for their fifth consecutive win in the Spanish league on Sunday, climbing to second place in the standings for the first time this season. But the club’s goal was to try to find out how, and why, Messi’s 555 million euro ($ 673 million) contract ended up being revealed.
It’s just the latest mess to afflict Barcelona, which has been mired in debt and political turmoil since last season, the first without a title in more than a decade.
“We have to try to find out how this got to the press,” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said. “If someone from the club leaked this, that person cannot have a future at this club.”
the The world The newspaper agreed to the contract that Messi signed with the Catalan club in 2017. It included details of his fixed income and variable payments that could reach almost 138 million euros (167 million dollars) for each of the four seasons that covered.
Some saw his disclosure as an attempt to turn Barcelona fans against Messi, who last year was denied his request to leave the club but will be able to leave at the end of this season.
“Messi has done a lot for this club,” Koeman said. “We have to respect it. It seems that there is bad intention and desire to harm you. Without Leo you cannot aspire to win many things ”.
Barcelona categorically denied any involvement in the leak and said it will take legal action against the newspaper “for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.”
The club was quick to express its “absolute support” for Messi after the “attempt to discredit his image” and “damage his relationship with the entity in which he has worked to become the best player in the world and in the history of football” .
Former president Josep Bartomeu, who resigned in October after being criticized by Messi, also denied being behind the leak.
“Messi deserves what he earns, for sporting and commercial reasons,” Bartomeu told the Catalan channel TV3.
Joan Laporta, one of the presidential candidates in the club’s elections scheduled for March 7, said on Monday that he will investigate who leaked the document if he is elected. “The club must know what happened.”
He noted that Messi generates a third of Barcelona’s income and will work hard to convince the great Argentine to stay at the club. Laporta said he sent Messi a message to encourage him and tell him not to worry about his contract leaking.
Another presidential candidate, Victor Font, said that Messi has earned every last penny he has received and that he will also try to convince him to stay. But he pointed out that if that doesn’t happen, “it won’t be the end of the world” for Barcelona.
The Catalan club struggled at the start of the season but has recently improved. They lost the final of the Spanish Super Cup to Athletic Bilbao in extra time, but have won eight of their last 10 league games, tying the other two.
The victory against Athletic, when Messi scored one of the goals, tied the club on points with Real Madrid, but still 10 points behind the leader Atlético de Madrid, who have one game less.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.