Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has been left seething after details of Lionel Messi’s contract were leaked to the media – and has vowed to identify and punish whoever is responsible.
Barca find themselves in financial strife but the figures shown on the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s deal were astronomical..
El Mundo reported Messi’s current deal is worth a whopping €555 million (£491m/$674m), including €138m (£112m/$167m) in annual earnings.
Barcelona have threatened legal action against the newspaper after the details of Messi’s conract were published.
With Messi out of contract in the summer, his future looks distinctly uncertain, particularly given the sums of money in his current deal.
Nevertheless, he continues to lead the club on the field as he did in the 2-1 victory against Athletic Club, during which he scored a superb free-kick to reach 650 career Barcelona goals.
“Whoever has leaked Messi’s contract cannot have a future at Barca,” Koeman said after the encounter. “What has come out in the press about Messi was done maliciously.
“We have to try to know how this could have come out in the press. We have to concentrate on our season. The team’s been fine lately. We won a lot of games. We don’t have to focus on this issue, but there are people who want to hurt Barca and Leo.
“Messi has been demonstrating his quality as a footballer for years, has helped a lot to make this club great and has helped a lot to win titles.”
Koeman denied that the publication gave the 33-year-old Argentine any extra motivation on the field.
“I’ve noticed that Messi was very motivated, but not more than for other games,” the Dutchman added.
“Of course today’s news could have affected him. You have to respect the important players who have done so much for this club.
“Leo is a winner, he always wants to prove his quality. It’s important to be united.” Goal
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