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Messi, Barcelona to take legal action vs. Spanish newspaper for contract leak

FC Barcelona said it denies any responsibility in the publication of Lionel Messi's contract on Saturday in El Mundo. Photo by Alberto Estevez/EPA-EFE
FC Barcelona said it "denies any responsibility" in the publication of Lionel Messi's contract on Saturday in El Mundo. Photo by Alberto Estevez/EPA-EFE

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- FC Barcelona and soccer superstar Lionel Messi plan to take legal action against El Mundo after the Spanish newspaper leaked details of Messi's $670 million contract.

Barcelona announced its plans to take the matter to court in a statement released on Sunday. El Mundo published documents related to the record-breaking, four-year pact on Saturday. The report said that Messi's deal, signed in 2017, is the richest in history for an athlete.

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The newspaper also said the contract "ruins Barcelona."

"In view of the information published [Saturday] in the newspaper El Mundo, in relation to the professional contract signed between FC Barcelona and the player Lionel Messi, the club regrets its publication given that it is a private document governed by the principle of confidentiality between the parties," Barcelona said in a news release.

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"FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication."

Sources told ESPN that Barcelona, Messi, La Liga and Cuatrecasas -- a law firm used by Messi -- were the only parties initially given copies of the contract.

"I don't understand why they say he's ruined Barca," Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman told reporters after a 2-1 win over Athletic Club on Sunday in Barcelona.

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"He's spent years and years showing his quality as a footballer. We must highlight what he's done for this club. He's helped make this club great and we have to stop with all this contract nonsense."

The documents stated that Messi could have received up to $673,919,105 million if all of the incentives were reached in his contract. Messi accepted a salary reduction last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"FC Barcelona expresses its absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the entity where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history," Barcelona said.

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