Reeling from having his contract details leaked, Messi fires Barça up the table

Barça women taste clásico glory, Girona set to trial hosting fans, while all three Catalan sides hold onto basketball playoff berths

Lionel Messi watches his free kick sail into the top corner against Athletic Bilbao (by REUTERS/Albert Gea)
Lionel Messi watches his free kick sail into the top corner against Athletic Bilbao (by REUTERS/Albert Gea) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

February 1, 2021 06:06 PM

It’s been another turbulent week for Barça captain Lionel Messi, but the Argentine was able to put the off-field noise to one side and score a beautiful free kick on the way to sending his team second in the La Liga standings. 

In the space of a few days, Spanish newspaper El Mundo revealed the extent of FC Barcelona’s debts, showing the club in eye-watering debts of over €1.1 billion. Crucially around €730 million of this is due in the short-term, and the news outlet claims the club are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Just days later, the same newspaper published intricate details of Lionel Messi’s contract and how much he gets paid by the club. The entire contract that dates back to 2017, including variables would pay the Argentine €555,237,619

Furthermore, the newspaper presented the story in a manner Messi is furious with and is said to be preparing legal action against. El Mundo’s headline described details of the “pharaonic” contract that is “ruining” FC Barcelona. 

On the pitch, after Real Madrid had already stumbled at home to Levante the day before, Barça had the chance to go second in the table and gain some revenge on Athletic Bilbao, their conquerors in the Spanish Super Cup final. 

A fabulous free-kick from the Argentine magician was followed up by a nicely worked team goal finished off by Antoine Griezmann to pick up the win that brings them to second position in the league. 

Espanyol despair

Teams from the Catalan capital now occupy second spot in both the first and second divisions of Spanish football, as Espanyol were knocked off the top spot.

Seemingly flying comfortably with a 2-0 lead at half time, Rayo Vallecano gave the Pericos a bloody nose with the unlikeliest of comebacks. The side from Vallecas rocked the Catalans with an early second-half goal before completing the comeback in the final ten minutes. 

Espanyol are rumoured to be interested in reinforcing their side with a new striker, with the former Manchester United striker Federico Macheda linked with a move to the club before the transfer window shuts.

Further despair was felt in northern Catalonia, as Mallorca overtook Espanyol thanks to a 93rd-minute game-winning goal against Girona. 

Girona will be involved in a new pilot scheme beginning at the end of February with the aim of hosting spectators in their Montilivi ground again. 

The project, named “Obrim Girona” (“We Open Girona”), is being carried out in conjunction with a pharmaceutical body which will develop a system for fans to present their Covid-19 status, be it from tests carried out in the days leading up to the event, and vaccinations. 

Femení clásico glory

The clásico between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is a very new concept in women’s football, due to the fact that Real Madrid didn’t have a women’s team until very recently. This weekend, Barça Femení enjoyed a 4-1 victory over their eternal rivals. 

Defender María León was indignant after the final whistle. She was shown a red card and a penalty was given to las blancas for what the referee saw as a foul inside the box. However, replays showed the Barça player made clear contact with the ball. 

“I would be ashamed” of such refereeing standards, she tweeted following the game. “Today it went against me but it’s just one thing after another.” 

Despite her unhappiness, Barcelona are soaring in the standings with a perfect record of 13 wins from 13 matches played. At the moment they lead the league table by a mere two points, but they have played three games fewer than second-placed Levante. 

They are averaging over 5 goals scored per game and have only let in three all season, including the controversial penalty awarded to Real Madrid.


In basketball, Barcelona kept the pressure on Real Madrid at the top of the table with a 92-63 win over Ucam Murcia. The win is Barça’s 10th in a row

Burgos dealt a huge blow to Manresa with a 101-87 win a match in which it was clear the Catalans dearly missed Dani Pérez who went off injured in the second period. Without him, Manresa failed to find their rhythm and looked mentally out of the game. 

The defeat gave Juventud de Badalona the chance to open up a one-win gap between them and their Catalan rivals, with both sides still just about sitting in the playoff spots. 

Penya’s 80-75 victory over Fuenlabrada was largely thanks to the exceptional work by Xabi López-Arostegui (18 points) and Simon Birgander (12 points) in the dying moments of the encounter.