Argentina fans celebrate Lionel Messi goal in World Cup final
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Lionel Messi has reportedly been called a “sewer rat” and a “dwarf” by former Barcelona board member Roman Gomez Ponti in recently leaked messages. The recent World Cup winner spent the majority of his career with the Catalan giants and delivered a mouth-watering amount of success for the La Liga side, but that has not stopped everyone at the club from disparaging the Argentine.
Spanish outlet SPORT has shared messages published by El Periodico that were sent in a Whatsapp group allegedly between Ponti, ex-president Josep Bartomeu, former general director Oscar Grau, ex-financial director Pancho Schroder and ex-directory of Strategy and Innovation Javier Sobrino that were abusive towards the 35-year-old.
The group were furious that details of Messi’s contract had been leaked to the press in 2021, as ex-head of legal services Ponti hit out at Bartomeu for his favouritism of the club’s star man. “Really, you can’t be such a good person with this sewer rat,” he wrote. “The club has given him everything and he has dedicated himself to marking a dictatorship of signings, transfers, renewals, sponsorships just for him, etc.”
The board member continued to slate Messi, calling him a “pesetero”, meaning a money-grabber, while questioning the contract renewals of key players Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and a renewal fee to Ansu Fati, which went to his agent, Messi’s brother Rodrigo.
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“And above all the accumulation of blackmail and rudeness that the club and those of us who work [for it] have suffered from this hormonal dwarf who owes Barca his life… ah!” Ponti continued. “But when things go wrong [Covid-19] you receive the mythical WhatsApp [message]: ‘President, lower the salaries of others, but don’t touch Luis [Suarez] and me’.”
Barcelona had to operate by a strict salary cap that ultimately saw them unable to renew Messi’s contract, and their talisman left to join French club Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Messi’s leaked contract stated that he could have earned a maximum of €555,237,619 (£491m) over four seasons providing a series of conditions were met, until what was then the highest-earning sports contract of all time expired in June 2021.
They were unable to renew Messi’s contract and he was able to join PSG on a sensational free transfer, since going on to lift the World Cup with Argentina as captain and cementing himself as arguably the greatest football player of all time.
He returned to PSG to play his first game since the final in Qatar, in the 2-0 victory over Angers where he scored the second goal before taking part in a tribute to the late Pele, wearing a shirt commemorating the Brazil legend before kick-off.
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