Lionel Messi’s contract with FC Barcelona expired in the midnight of June 30, making him a free agent and further hyping the speculations that have surrounded his future.
Since last year when the Argentine astro sent a burofax to the then club’s president, Josep Bartomeu and his board, saying he wants to leave Barcelona, one of the greatest tasks of Barca has been how to keep Messi at Camp Nou beyond June 30 2021. While the brouhaha that followed his decision to leave his childhood club has died down, Messi’s future remains unsettled and Barcelona doesn’t seem to have a grip on it yet.
A lot of changes have followed Messi’s decision to quit Barcelona. The Catalan side, in a bid to appease its greatest asset, has called for election, elected a new president following the resignation of Bartomeu, orchestrated by Messi throwing in the towel.
The new president, Joan Laporta has vowed to offer Messi a new contract he can’t resist, but there have been obstacles. Barcelona, like every other club in Europe has been dealt a financial blow by the pandemic, limiting its financial capability to retain Messi with a mouth-watering new contract. Messi’s agent and father, Jorge Messi has been communicating with Barcelona with the aim of getting the six-time Ballon D’or winner to sign a new contract, but the inability of the parties to reach an agreement before the expiration of Messi’s contract has further compounded the situation.
Messi becoming a free agent means that Barcelona will have to re-sign him, and he will have to register with La Liga as a new player with the club. That increases the chances of other clubs wooing him over. Also as a new signing, Messi, whose wages are far above average, will have to be fit into the framework of La Liga’s financial regulations by Barcelona.
The Spanish football authorities have been working to tame high financial spending by clubs jeopardizing fair play. Earlier, La Liga president Javier Tebas had warned Barca to reduce its wages or they won’t be able to register Messi ahead of the 2021-22 season.
In addition, Messi said last year in a tell-all interview with Goal, that he tried to leave Barcelona because there is no project, which has resulted in the club losing its form and many trophies, (Champions League and La Liga) among other competitions. Though Laporta promised that Barca will embark on projects that will see a new team built around Messi, the club’s financial status is posing a challenge to his ability to fulfill the promise and Messi needs assurance that there will be projects.
The 34 years old is currently with Albiceleste, Argentine’s national team in Brazil, where the 2020 Copa America is taking place whilst his future in Barcelona is being negotiated. There is optimism that Messi will commit his future to Barcelona by signing a new contract, but the complexities surrounding the new contract opens him up to other possibilities.