A few years ago, it would have been laughable to assume that one day Lionel Messi would leave Barcelona, let alone on a free transfer. Unfortunately, that became reality in 2021 when the club’s horrid financial condition did not allow for his renewal.
The truth is, however, that Messi was close to leaving Barça in 2020 as well. The Argentine revealed the same in an interview in October that year, claiming that he was being ‘kept like a prisoner’ by Josep Bartomeu and his administration.
Prior to that interview, though, Messi had apparently tabled his demands to renew his contract in 2020, as has been revealed by El Mundo. He had a whopping demands to renew his contract and stay.
1. Three-year extension: Still only 33 at the time, a three-year contract was a realistic demand from Messi. He was still the best player in the world, and had shown no signs of slowing down.
2. Private box for own and Suarez’s family: This is where things start to get interesting and personal. Messi demanded a private box at the Camp You for his own family, and that of Luis Suarez for game days.
3. €10 million renewal bonus: A €10 million (or more) renewal bonus was unheard of before Kylian Mbappe renewed his contract with PSG earlier this year. However, it seems Messi had demanded that before the Frenchman, back in 2020.
It is important to note that Barcelona had refused this demand, for they did not have the funds to move ahead with it.
4. Elimination of release clause: All teams in Spain follow the release clause system, that allows other clubs to trigger a clause in the player’s contract to move ahead with direct negotiations.
Messi’s release clause in 2020 was reportedly €700 million. He wanted it removed, even though a symbolic clause of €10,000 would remain. Barcelona refused to sign off on this, either.
5. Repayment of wage cuts: Messi, and other members of the team took a pay-cut in 2020 to help the club during COVID-19. The captain, however, wanted Barcelona to pay it back to him, with a 3% interest rate.
6. Private plane: A simple one, does not need an awful lot of explanation; Leo wanted the club to give him a private plane during Christmas time.
7. Wage raise with tax: Messi demanded that, should the Spanish government raise taxes, the club would have to compensate the difference so that he would end up earning the same net salary.
8. Continuity of personal assistant: During most of his final years at the club, Messi had Pepe Costa as his personal assistant, who was on the club’s payroll. His continuity was in doubt due to pandemic cuts, but Leo demanded he continue.
9. Commission to his brother: Finally, he wanted Barcelona to pay a commission to his brother, Rodrigo Messi, as a renewal bonus. Rodrigo was representing Ansu Fati at the time, and could have been pivotal in the teenager’s renewal, so the club agreed to this, too.
Of the nine demands placed by Messi, Bartomeu refused to cater to two: lowering his release clause to €10,000 and the €10 million signing bonus.
Due to this, talks broke down between the two parties, leading to the now-35-year-old to push for an exit. To no success, though.