Signed napkin that secured Lionel Messi's boyhood move to Barcelona as a 13-year-old star is set to go on sale... with punters able to bid as long as they have £300k to spare

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  • A napkin that secured Lionel Messi's initial move to Barcelona is going on sale
  • The Argentinian superstar moved to the Catalan club at just 13-years-old
  • Will Sir Jim Ratcliffe dip into his pockets to sign players for Manchester United? It's All Kicking Off Transfer Week podcast 

A napkin that secured Lionel Messi's boyhood move to Barcelona is going on sale and you can enter the bidding for one of football's most important artefacts if you have a spare £300,000 to hand.

The story of Messi's transfer from Argentina to Barcelona's La Masia academy starts with a commitment to sign the youngster being made on a paper napkin at a restaurant.

Now starring at Inter Miami, Messi's outstanding European career established him as a Barcelona legend and one of the greatest-ever players the sport has ever seen. But his first journey from South America almost never happened.

The original napkin that is printed with blue ink and is signed by the individuals responsible for Messi joining Barcelona is going on sale with Bonhams - a privately owned international auction house.

Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli is the current holder of the delicate piece of sports memorabilia and an online auction will run from 18 to 27 March.

The napkin that secured Lionel Messi's first move to Barcelona is going on sale at an auction

The napkin that secured Lionel Messi's first move to Barcelona is going on sale at an auction

The napkin that secured Lionel Messi's first move to Barcelona is going on sale at an auction

The napkin that Barcelona confirmed their intentions to bring Messi to the club will start at bids of £300,000

The napkin that Barcelona confirmed their intentions to bring Messi to the club will start at bids of £300,000

Messi's outstanding career at Barcelona saw him achieve collective and individual success

Messi's outstanding career at Barcelona saw him achieve collective and individual success

Written in Spanish, it explains Barcelona's commitment to offer Messi a contract as an academy player who at the time had been spotted as a talented 12-year-old.

Messi's journey to the Catalan club started when Barcelona had been tipped off about his potential when he was playing as a youngster within the ranks of local side Newell's Old Boys.

His father, Jorge Messi, worked as a supervisor at a steel mill at the time while his mother, Celia, similarly worked in a factory, however Messi always seemed destined to follow a career in football.

After scouting Messi in his native Argentina, the youngster and his father were flown to Barcelona for a trial, but there was concern amongst some senior club members that he wasn't tall enough to make it as a professional player.

Messi went on to carve out a 17-year career in Barcelona's first-team after making his debut in 2004

Messi went on to carve out a 17-year career in Barcelona's first-team after making his debut in 2004

The Argentine won the Champions League four times during his stay at the Nou Camp

The Argentine won the Champions League four times during his stay at the Nou Camp

Just as negotiations looked like stalling, Jorge met with Barcelona's Sporting Director, Carles Rexach - a longstanding player and coach for the club and Josep Minguella, the transfer advisor to Barcelona.

The famous napkin that measures 16.5 x 16.5cm read: 'In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and 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.' 

It was then signed by all parties along with Horacio Gaggioli, the Argentine agent who brought Messi to Barcelona's attention, and an official letter confirming the youngster's move was signed that evening by club president Joan Gaspart.

The rest as they say is history as Messi set out on his path to success at the Nou Camp, embarking on a 17-year first-team career before leaving amidst the club's financial woes in 2021.

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