On 4 February 2004, Lionel Messi signed his first professional contract with Barcelona. The Argentine’s first deal with the Catalans lasted until 2012. The release clause was set at €30m which was quite huge back then.
Just to compare, Ronaldo Nazario’s move from Inter Milan to Real Madrid in 2002 was worth €39m. Given that Leo Messi was an unknown name in the world of football, Barcelona set a reasonable clause.
16 years ago, 16-year-old Lionel Messi signed his first professional contract with Barcelona ✨ pic.twitter.com/zSslhkFBGX— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 4, 2020
What’s more important, his release clause increased almost three times after he made his debut for Barcelona B. In March 2004, it stood at €80m which was an even better commitment to the club than the moment he put pen to paper.
Messi’s next deal was signed already in 2005 on his birthday, 24 June. Although it ran until 2010 – two years less than the first contract, the new release clause was set at €150m. If any club had triggered the clause, it would have been the most expensive move of all time. Messi, meanwhile, was just 18 years of age at that time.