September 28, 2021

‘Barcelona fans don’t deserve that’ – Messi’s image could be ruined by manner of Camp Nou exit, says his first agent

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Horacio Gaggioli, who helped the Catalan giants sign the Argentine, is worried that he is tarnishing his legacy by requesting to leave

Lionel Messi’s decision to leave Barcelona could ruin his image with the club’s fans, says the agent who signed him to the Catalan club on a paper napkin.

The Argentine dropped a bombshell declaration on Barca on August 25, expressing to the Blaugrana that he wished to opt out of his contract and leave the club after nearly 20 years – with the decision coming only days after the humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich.

Although his contract is set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season, Messi and his legal team have activated a clause they believe will allow him to terminate his deal unilaterally.

However, Barcelona and La Liga say that particular clause has expired and the player can only leave if another club meets his €700 million (£624m/$823m) release clause , or a separate fee is negotiated with the Blaugrana.

Messi’s first agent Horacio Gaggioli – who says he signed the future superstar from Newell’s Old Boys to Barcelona with a contract written on a napkin – feels the 33-year-old is letting down the club’s supporters with the nature of his departure.

“I don’t understand [Messi’s request to leave],” Gaggioli told Goal . “Leo became a great at Barcelona and he’s triumphed for them.

“His transfer started due to a signed napkin, where Carles Rexach, the sporting director of Barca, promised to hire him. And 20 years later, it can’t be possible that he’s leaving with this burofax.

“Barca’s supporters don’t deserve that. He’s been very badly advised to do such a thing. I hope he can realise this.

“I don’t dare to say how his image [can change]. I would like the fans to always remember what has been achieved with him, but I think it will be difficult.”

When asked to predict what he thought would happen in the Messi saga, Gaggioli said he believed the Argentina international would likely leave the club, with his agent and father Jorge Messi having commenced talks with the club’s hierarchy.

“[I think] that maybe the parties won’t reach an agreement and that Leo can possibly lose the chance of being the greatest ever at Barca – even though he changed the modern history of the club with the help of that historic napkin,” he said.

Despite the Liga season beginning on September 11, Barcelona’s first game won’t be until a September 27 or 28 clash with Villarreal , as they utilise an extended break following their European campaign.