Finally, Lionel Messi is set to commit his future to Barcelona, ending the uncertainties that have surrounded his career ever since his contract expired on June 30th.
The sixth time Ballon d’Or winner will sign a new five-year contract at Barcelona after agreeing to a 50 per cent wage cut. The Spanish side will announce his re-signing in a few days.
The news came a few days after the Argentine captain lifted the Copa America for the first time, ending the stigma of not winning any major trophy in his national career.
Last year, fed up with the lacklustre situation in Barcelona, Messi had thrown in the towel, requesting to leave his childhood club at the end of the season. Messi has spent his entire career to date on Barca’s books, having initially made his debut for the club as a teenager in 2004.
The new contract means the 34 years old will spend the best part of his career in Camp Nou. Barcelona has had to get around a lot of hurdles to re-sign Messi after he became a free agent, following the expiration of contract.
The hurdles include getting Messi’s wages to fit into La Liga’s financial framework. Barcelona exceeded La Liga’s wage limit at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, making it impossible for the Spanish giants to offer their most valued asset a lucrative deal.
Messi earned a staggering £468m/$650m over the course of his last five-year contract at Camp Nou, which equates to around £64m/$89m per season. The new contract means he will earn half of the money in the next five years. The new contract also reportedly has a termination clause of £320 million ($444 million).
The pressure piled up on Barca as La Liga president Javier Tebas warned that the Blaugrana, who would need to register Messi as a new signing, will not legally do so without significantly reducing their wage bill.
Messi’s father and agent, Jorge Messi, has been in talks with Barca’s newly elected president Joan Laporta, for weeks now. Laporta was elected on the promise of revitalizing Barcelona’s philosophy which Messi said had significantly waned under former president Josep Bartomeu. Barcelona was thrown into disarray after Messi sent a burofax to the former president, requesting to leave the club in June last year. His decision forced Bartomeu to resign, paving the way for the election that ushered in Laporta.
The fulfillment Messi derived from Argentina’s Copa America’s win is believed to have played a huge role in his agreement to a new contract. There was an array of interest from other clubs in the Argentine astro last year, with Guardiola’s Man City leading the charge.
Although Messi has expressed interest in retiring from his football career after a possible spell in United States’ MLS or a possible return to boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys, his new contract means he will continue playing for Barca until 2026 – at which point he will be 39 years of age.
Barcelona is yet to publish more details about Messi’s new contract, but rumor has it that part of it will see him working with the club after he retires.