Lionel Messi bizarre Barcelona contract clauses revealed including free transfer option if Catalonia became independent

LIONEL MESSI must 'integrate into Catalan society and culture' including by learning the language as part of his Barcelona contract.

However, the Argentine has the ability to trigger a free transfer should the Catalonia region become independent of Spain.

These are some of the bizarre clauses in his current deal at the Nou Camp, as leaked by El Mundo.

The £492million contract – signed in 2017 and expiring this summer – was publicised at the weekend.

It is worth up to £123m per year – or £2.4m per week – and includes a £102m renewal fee for signing on the dotted line as well as a loyalty bonus of £69m per year for staying.

Now the Spanish newspaper, who obtained a copy of the 30-page confidential document, have unearthed more details of Messi's contract which expires at the end of the season.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner agreed in article 1.2.7 of the first clause to an obligation to learn the Catalan language.

This was all part of Barcelona's plan to cement his place as a man of the city rather than simply the football club's greatest player.

On top of that, Messi must 'adopt an adequate personal conduct and pace of life' and not engage in doping, another clause adds.

He is also financially rewarded for playing 60 per cent of official Barcelona matches with a £1m bonus – although this does not include the Copa Catalunya where Barca tend to use their B-team players.

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But should Catalonia successfully break away from the rest of the country, that gives Messi the option to quit the club for nothing.

Messi's bumper contract is the biggest in sporting history, trumping NFL star Patrick Mahomes' £402m deal with Kansas City Chiefs.

However, the leak has sparked a backlash in Spain with the club and former president Josep Maria Bartomeu strenuously denying responsibility for the press getting hold of a copy.

Bartomeu told ESport3: "It's a very serious issue and it's totally illegal to leak professional contracts.

"Speaking on TV and making accusations is easy, but it's not a joke and this will end up in court."

What is clear is that there was a leak. If I win the election I will try to find out who is responsible

Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta hinted who he thinks may have released the paperwork.

Laporta, who is the favourite to win March's presidential candidate and believes Messi will stay at the Nou Camp beyond the summer, said: "What my suspicions are does not matter.

"What is clear is that there was a leak. If I win the election I will try to find out who is responsible. I will ring Javier Tebas (head of LaLiga) to see if he knows anything.

"There are only five people [at Barcelona] who have this contract in their custody: the president, the director general, the sporting director, the club's legal advisers and human resources."



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