Adidas has denied claims it offered to pay half of Lionel Messi’s €250 million buyout clause for the player to join Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, three of the company’s sponsored clubs.
As reported by Dermot Corrigan of ESPN, Catalonia-based newspaper Mundo Deportivo claimed Adidas expressed an intense interest in seeing Messi wear a kit that promotes the organisation's iconic three-striped logo, not the rival swoosh of Nike, as worn by Barcelona:
Mundo Deportivo had claimed that the German sportswear giant, which provides Messi with boots, was keen for him to play for a team for which it acts as kit supplier.
The story said the company would pay half of Messi’s 250 million euro release clause and also raise by 40 percent its own commercial contract with a club that could sell replica jerseys with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s name on the back.
Adidas has moved quickly to quash speculation in wake of feverish reports across the media, issuing a statement to French newspaper L’Equipe:
"The relationship of Adidas with one of its players is purely commercial," the statement read. "Any sporting decision is between the player and his representatives."
Despite the unlikelihood of any club matching a potential offer from Adidas—coupled with Messi’s desire to stay at the Camp Nou—the situation forced many to consider a world in which football’s most decorated player switched allegiance.
The irony of this story is that Messi’s main rival, one Cristiano Ronaldo, is sponsored by Nike and wears the logo of Adidas when he steps onto the pitch for Real Madrid.
Messi certainly wasn’t bothered by the reports and played a key part in Barca’s Champions League victory over AC Milan. The Argentinian forward ended a run of three consecutive games without a goal by netting a brace in the 3-1 victory, silencing many critics in the process.
He is now expected to work out a contract extension with Barcelona in the near future.
Club president Sandro Rosell recently denied claims his player has asked for a deal worth more than £15 million a year, per John Drayton of the Daily Mail Online, a number that would compete with Ronaldo’s £288,000 per week, as reported by Sam Cunningham of the same publication.
Messi and his Barcelona teammates can now prepare for a tough La Liga trip to Betis without the assertion that the club's star asset will one day be forced into a move dictated by brand power.