Adidas has denied a report that it offered to put up 125 million euros in the summer so that Lionel Messi could join one of the clubs it sponsors -- either Real Madrid, Chelsea or Bayern Munich.
Mundo Deportivo had claimed that the German sportswear giant, which provides Messi with boots, was keen for him to play for a team for which it acts as kit supplier.
The story said the company would pay half of Messi’s 250 million euro release clause and also raise by 40 percent its own commercial contract with a club that could sell replica jerseys with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s name on the back.
This revelation led to a host of stories in the UK and elsewhere suggesting the Argentina international could have either joined Barca’s bitter rivals Madrid, rejoined his former coach Pep Guardiola in Munich, or even moved to London to play under Jose Mourinho.
Adidas moved quickly to quell this speculation, issuing a statement to L'Equipe to clarify the situation.
It read: “The relationship of Adidas with one of its players is purely commercial. Any sporting decision is between the player and his representatives.”
Regardless, Mundo Deportivo had said that Messi had no intention of taking up any offer to leave, and had told Barca officials as much. The 26-year-old, who has been at the Camp Nou since he was 13, currently has five more years to run on a contract signed just last February.
In the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo signing a new 20 million-euro-plus annual deal with Madrid in September, there had been rumours in Catalonia that Messi was looking to increase his current 12.5 million-euro-a-year salary, but they were laughed off at the time by Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell.