15 July 2021 By Grace Namiji
Lionel Messi and Barcelona have reached an agreement to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan Club and also 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 was worth over €500m and that expired at the stroke of midnight on July 1.
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 €1bn. 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 had warned Barca they would not be allowed to register Messi’s new deal if they were 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.
Messi is on holiday with his family following his Copa America glory with Argentina last weekend, which was his first senior trophy with his national team.