Messi napkin sells for nearly $1 million. Why this piece of soccer history is so important

The blue-inked napkin which led to Lionel Messi joining FC Barcelona to begin one of the most historic careers in soccer history was sold at a Bonhams auction on Friday.

The winning bid was £762,400, or $965,000. Bidding began May 8 at £220,000 or $274,824.

Considered a unique and historic piece of soccer history, the napkin signified Barcelona’s commitment to sign Messi to a contract when he was a 13-year-old prodigy from Argentina.

The napkin was signed by former Barcelona sporting director Carles Rexach, club transfer advisor Josep Minguella, and agent Horacio Gaggioli, who arranged Messi’s tryout with Barcelona in September 2000.

The auction was on behalf of Gaggioli, who kept the napkin safe before bidding.

Written in Spanish, the napkin states: "In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and the presence of Mr. 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."

Messi, the star of Inter Miami in Major League Soccer is a 2022 World Cup champion with Argentina and an eight-time Ballon d’Or winner as soccer’s best player. He scored 674 goals in 782 games with Barcelona, and helped the club with 35 titles from 2004-2021.

“This is one of the most thrilling items I have ever handled. Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Lionel Messi’s career,” said Ian Ehling, head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams New York, in a news release before the sale. “It changed the life of Messi, the future of FC Barcelona, and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of soccer to billions of fans around the globe.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lionel Messi napkin contract sells at auction for nearly $1 million