Lionel Messi will no longer be a Barcelona player from Thursday (July 1) as his contract with the popular La Liga club ended on June 30. However, club president Joan Laporta is confident of stitching a loose deal, details of which are being worked out, say sources.
Rumours are ripe about PSG and Manchester City drawing plans to get the star footballer to play for them. The Catalan club captain is a free agent now and can join any other club.
As of Wednesday, Messi had not signed a renewed deal to extend his 20-year contract with Barca. Sources say the team management is working on the truncated contract (since the club could not afford to pay Messi much) and is keen to announce the star Argentinian’s continued relationship with Camp Nou.
Messi last renewed his contract with Barca in 2017 with a pay of €500m for four years. It is quite evident that the club cannot afford to pay Messi that much this time around and therefore the challenge of retaining the 34-year-old.
ESPN reported that the Spanish club is “in the process of squaring the numbers with La Liga and the tax office” to make sure the deal sees through.
La Liga chief Javier Tebas has told Barcelona about the limitations the club may face while registering Messi’s new contract if the team management does not cut its expenses in other areas.
Before COVID happened, Barcelona was La Liga’s highest wage payer with salaries at €600 million a season. Since then the player expenses have been reduced to half at €300m.
Laporta has said before that money is not so important for Messi, who wants a promise that a competitive team will be built around him, reported ESPN.
Barcelona needs Messi more than ever because it isn’t looking like the team it was with no Champions League trophy for the last six years and no La Liga title for the last two years.
Last summer, Messi had said he won’t like to continue with his favourite club mainly because of his strained relationship with then Barcelona FC president Josep Maria Bartomeu. After Bartomeu quit, Messi has looked more inclined towards staying back. Laporta returned for the second time as president and has since then been keen on retaining the Argentinian.
Two days back, Messi scored a double in Argentina’s 4-1 win over Bolivia in Copa America tournament, thus becoming his country’s most-capped player of all time. Argentina play Ecuador in the quarterfinal on August 3.