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    FC Barcelona’s director of football, Carles Rexach didn’t have the paperwork ready in December 2000. In a haste to get the signature of a certain Argentine teenage footballer, Rexach used a napkin to get the deal done.

    On it was written, “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.”

    The napkin has since been secured in a vault in Andorra and has been part of the club’s rich memorabilia as Messi went on to become the most successful and celebrated player in the club’s history. Come March though, the fabled piece of paper shall be for auction starting at a whooping price of £300,000 ($382,150).

    The talks for incorporating the napkin at Barcelona’s museum at Spotify Camp Nou broke down and henceforth it was decided that it shall be made available for bidding.

    “This is one of the most thrilling items I have ever handled,” said Ian Ehling, the Head of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams New York

    Festive offer

    “Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Messi’s career. It changed the life of Messi, the future of Barça and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of football to billions of fans around the globe.”

    Why the napkin?

    It’s a question which has often been asked for Rexach. Was there no paper available at the moment to get the signature?

    “It was the only thing I had available to hand. I saw the only way to relax Jorge was signing something, giving him some proof, so I asked for a napkin from the waiter,” Rexach told ESPN in 2020.

    “I told Jorge (Lionel Messi’s father) that my signature was there and that there were witnesses, that with my name I would take direct responsibility, there was nothing else to talk about and to be patient for a few days because Leo could already consider himself a Barca player,” he added.

    During his two decades with the club, Messi went on to score 672 goals from his 778 outings, winning 10 LaLiga titles, seven Copas del Rey and four Champions League trophies.

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