Barcelona said in a statement released Wednesday that it is "studying the legal measures that need to be taken" after El Mundo leaked details of contract negotiations that took place between the club and superstar forward Lionel Messi in 2020, per ESPN's Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.
The full statement read:
"In relation to the information published in El Mundo under the title 'Barca Leaks, the club's secret files', Barcelona express indignation at the intentional leaking of information that is part of a legal process.
"The club regrets that the media in question boasts of having 'access to a huge number of documents and emails that are part of the Barcagate investigation' when this information is yet to be shared.
"In any case, the article in question makes public documents that have nothing to do with the ongoing case and their use is an affront to the reputation and confidentiality of the club. For that reason, and with the aim of protecting Barcelona's rights, the club's legal department are studying the legal measures that need to be taken."
Per El Mundo's report, Messi wanted to reduce his buyout clause to just €10,000 ($9,849), wanted guarantees the club would pay him his deferred wages, desired a three-year deal that included a €10 million signing bonus and a player option for a fourth season in 2024 and other considerations, including private boxes for both his and Luis Suarez's family at Camp Nou.
Messi reportedly would have taken a 20 percent pay cut on his €70 million annual salary but wanted to be paid back that sum with interest in the future.
He ultimately signed with Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in 2021. Despite agreeing to terms with new club president Joan Laporta, Barcelona's financial woes made them unable to register the agreement with La Liga.
El Mundo became privy to Messi's previous contract requests in negotiations with Barcelona after reportedly obtaining emails that police had gathered during an investigation into the club. Messi himself is not being investigated.
Per ESPN's report, "Barcagate is an ongoing legal case relating to third-party payments, breaching internal protocols and smear campaigns against club legends involving the previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board of directors."