Napkin on which Lionel Messi signed his Barcelona contract goes under the hammer. To be sold for

Napkin on which Lionel Messi signed his Barcelona contract goes under the hammer

The napkin upon which Lionel Messi signed his first-ever unofficial Barcelona contract is up for sale and the bidding has started at a whopping price of $275,000. The world-famous napkin and its lore has been shared numerous times throughout the years but collectors now have the opportunity to get their hands on the extraordinary piece of history.

London-based auction house Bonhams has started the bidding which will run until May 17. Experts are of the view that the napkin might fetch anywhere between $375,000 to $625,000.

What is the story behind the napkin?

Lionel Messi was born in 1987 into a working-class family in Rosario, about 300 kilometres north of Buenos Aires. Barcelona spotted Messi when he was just 13 and recognised that he had the qualities to become an all-timer.

However, not everyone in the upper hierarchy of the club was convinced of signing an unknown South American kid. They kept dragging the deal, which made Messi's father impatient.

On 14 December 2000, a fateful meeting occurred between Carles Rexach, Barca's sporting director, and agents Josep Minguella and Horacio Gaggioli at the Barcelona tennis club.

Rexach confirmed the club's interest by reaching out for the napkin and writing on it with blue ink, what would become an iconic piece of football memorabilia.

"In Barcelona, on December 14, 2000, and in the presence of the gentleman (the agent, Josep Maria) Minguella and Horacio (Gaggioli), Carles Rexach, technical secretary of FCB, commits under his responsibility, despite the opinion of others who are against signing Lionel Messi, as long as the agreed fees are maintained."

Gaggioli held on the piece for almost 25 years until deciding to sell it. Messi's formal contract was drawn up later, but this napkin was the springboard to greatness for FC Barcelona.

The signing of the contract changed not only the fortunes of Barcelona Football Club but also the footballing landscape as Messi would go on to sweep as many as eight Ballon d'Or's and win one of most memorable World Cups in recent memory

Where is Messi currently?

Messi is currently plying his trade in the Major League Soccer (MLS) where he is enjoying his football, away from the rigours of European football. However, the Argentine will be gearing up for the Copa America, scheduled to start next month where he will be defending his crown.

Argentina won 2021 Copa America by beating Brazil at the Maracana, which would propel Messi to do the unthinkable on the world stage, two years later in Qatar.