Lionel Messi and Barcelona have reached an agreement for the forward to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, sources have confirmed to ESPN. Sources added that Messi has accepted a significant wage reduction to prolong his stay.
Messi was a free agent after his contract at Barca expired, and he had courted interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City since first revealing a desire to end his 20-year relationship with Barca last summer. The 34-year-old’s previous contract, which was worth over €500 million ($594m) over four years, expired at the stroke of midnight on June 30.
However, with the return of Joan Laporta as president in March, Messi grew more open to staying at Camp Nou. An official announcement is expected in the coming days.
Laporta had hoped to finalise an agreement before Messi’s previous terms expired. Barca’s financial problems made that impossible, though, with their gross debt over €1 billion. Cutbacks have been essential, in terms of transferring players out, reducing the wage bill and getting Messi to accept a lower salary.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned Barca they will not be allowed to register Messi’s new deal if they are unable to reduce spending to comply with the league’s Financial Fair Play rules. Barca’s spending limit has been reduced from over €600m to €347m since the coronavirus pandemic, with further reductions expected to be imposed for the upcoming season.
Therefore, to register Messi’s new deal, in addition to new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, Barca need to continue reducing the wage bill and moving players on. With that in mind, sources at the club refuse to rule out the departure of Antoine Griezmann, a €120m signing in 2019.
Messi is on holiday with his family after his Copa America glory with Argentina last weekend, which was his first senior trophy with his national team.
He will link up with Ronald Koeman’s squad later in the summer, with Barca’s league campaign kicking off on Aug. 15 against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.
Source : ESPN