The Famous Napkin agreement that brought Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona together is heading to auction. It was the first promise of a contract to a 13-year-old Messi by then-sporting director Carles Rexach, which was written in blue ballpoint pen. This memorabilia is on display at Bonhams on behalf of Argentine agent, Horacio Gaggioli, and will go to an online auction from March 18 to 27 with a starting price of £300,000 (approximately $381,700).

Aside from Rexach, Barcelona’s transfer advisor Josep Minguella and Gaggioli also signed the napkin. It was Gaggioli who brought Messi to the attention of Rexach before Minguella and Rexach arranged his tryout in September 2000. The napkin agreement was made on Dec. 14, 2020, when the three men met for lunch at the Pompeia tennis club to discuss their interest in signing the teen to the club as they await impatiently for FC Barcelona’s decision. It may have been an unorthodox way to get the club’s president to say yes but it did the trick nonetheless.

That night, the President of FC Barcelona, Joan Gaspart, finally confirmed the agreement on more substantial paper, and the rest is history. Messi has only brought unprecedented success to the club and remains its all-time top scorer with 672 goals to his name.

The agreement on The Famous Napkin is written in Spanish but translates to: “In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and in the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, hereby agrees, under his responsibility and regardless of any dissenting opinions, to sign the player Lionel Messi, provided that we keep to the amounts agreed upon.”

Ian Ehling, head of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams New York, admitted that the memorabilia is “one of the most thrilling items” he has ever handled. He called it “the famous napkin that was at the inception of Lionel Messi’s career” that changed his life and that of the future of FC Barcelona.

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Images courtesy of Bonhams