Lionel Messi was allegedly called a 'sewer rat' and 'a hormonal dwarf' in leaked messages by an ex-FC Barcelona President Josep Bartomeu-led board member. These spiteful comments, reported by European media outlets, were made by Roman Gomez Ponti, FC Barcelona's former head of legal services during Bartomeu's time at the club.
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The comments were reportedly from a WhatsApp group that includes Bartomeu, former general director Oscar Grau and other ex-board members including financial director Pancho Schroder and directory of Strategy and Innovation Javier Sobrino. All these members left the club after Bartomeu quit.
As reported by the Mirror, the messages regarding Messi said, "Barto, really, you can't be such a good person with this sewer rat. The club has given him everything and he has dedicated himself to marking a dictatorship of signings, transfers, renewals, sponsorships just for him, etc."
"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! 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.'"
In this group chat, Bartomeu was also seen calling out Messi and his massive contract in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic. His message said, "Many times we have listened to Leo, not always, but many times and this contract without a pandemic was totally acceptable." He went on to say that it represented 15% of the club’s entire budget and that "it was correct taking into account everything that he generates.”
Messi grew into one of the greatest players in footballing history during his time at FC Barcelona. The Argentine was part of the senior team from 2004 to 2021, where he scored 474 goals in 520 games. In this period, he also won a club-record 35 trophies, including 10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, and four UEFA Champions Leagues.