Lionel Messi, for anyone who has the slightest idea about football, for them, this name is synonymous with Barcelona. Well, not anymore. The Argentine superstar’s contract with the Catalan club has expired and the 34-year-old is now a free agent. Which has put the six-time European champions in a rather messy place.
Messi’s contract ended as June drew to a close, making him free to sign with any other club if he chooses.
CAN HE PLAY FOR ANY OTHER TEAM NEXT SEASON?
Technically, Lionel Messi can play for any club next season but will he? Very unlikely! Despite the current situation, Barcelona are in the pole position to re-sign Messi and continue the two-decade-old association. Also, a handful of clubs can only match his wage demands, read Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
WHAT IS THE CONTRACT SITUATION?
According to reports, a contract is on the table and the two sides are very close to signing the paperwork and they are ironing out minute details regarding some clauses in the contract structure. According to reports, the delay is due to the economic and tax-related issues in relation to Messi’s contract, as well as his image rights.
The two sides are in constant dialogue with Barcelona president Joan Laporta directly communicating with Jorge Messi, Messi’s father and agent.
It is also understood that Messi is looking for assurances that Barcelona will be able to sign ‘proper players’ so as to build a competitive team around him in the near future.
According to ESPN, Barcelona is planning to give Messi freedom to move to MLS after a few years, where he would act as a Barca ambassador before returning to the club in a backroom role of his choosing.
IS BARCELONA’S FINANCIAL SITUATION A REASON?
It is not a secret anymore that Barcelona are in debt, they are in over €1 billion debt and hence cannot offer a lucrative deal upfront as they used to offer the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned Barca that they must bring their wages down, or they won’t be able to register Messi ahead of the 2021-22 season.
According to ESPN Barcelona are squaring the numbers with La Liga and the tax office to ensure there are no problems moving forward as now he needs to be registered with La Liga as a new signing.
Prior to the pandemic, Barcelona’s wage bill was more than €600 million per season which has been since slashed to just over €300m.
Messi’s most recent contract with the club, signed in 2017, was worth more than €500m over four years, including his salary, bonuses and image rights.
WHAT IS BARCELONA PRESIDENT SAYING?
Barcelona President, Joan Laporta had said recently he was optimistic that Messi would renew his contract with the club. When asked about Messi’s future on Wednesday, he briefly said “don’t worry."
After arriving at Barcelona at the age of 13, Lionel Messi made his official debut in 2004. Messi currently holds the record of most matches played for Barcelona (778), recorded the most titles (34), most wins, most goals (672) and most assists (288) for the Catalan giants in the 121-year old history of the La Liga powerhouse.
(With AFP Inputs)