It’s the news that many have been waiting anxiously on for weeks if not months: Lionel Messi has agreed terms on a new contract with FC Barcelona.
The 34-year-old will take a 50 percent pay cut to stay in Catalonia, and it is only a matter of getting the all-clear from the lawyers for the deal to be ratified.
According to the Catalan newspaper L’Esportiu, Messi and Barcelona reached an agreement on Wednesday and an official announcement will be made as soon as the finer details have been checked.
The Argentine international, who has just won the Copa America, has technically been a free agent for two weeks now, but Blaugrana fans can rest easy knowing he has finally agreed to stay.
The news will be music to the ears of Ronald Koeman and everyone else at the club as well, with the new season just around the corner.
Confirmation might take a few days, or indeed until the end of the month, as the club still need to balance the books to make this deal work, but it is on its way and Messi will be a Barcelona player in 2021/22, ending months of speculation about his future.
It is expected that Messi’s new contract will be a long-term one, for five years, but there are still suggestions that in a couple of years he could be playing his football in the USA and acting as a club ambassador.
It seems that, for now at least, however, both Messi and the club feel he can continue to contribute on the field for another five years.
According to the Barcelona-based newspaper Sport, money was never an issue in negotiations, with Messi happy to accept the club’s proposal of a hefty drop in wages in order to stay.
The sticking points in negotiations were legal issues and bureaucracy, with just a few minor hurdles still to overcome before everything is finalised.
Despite Messi’s previous contract expiring at the end of June, the Blaugrana’s social media accounts have continued to treat him as one of their own and their optimism seems to have been well placed.
Club president Joan Laporta and head coach Ronald Koeman have also been positive, especially the former, while Paris Saint-Germain were reported this week to have officially given up hope of luring Messi to the French capital.
Messi became available on a free transfer upon the expiration of his last deal, and it has been reported that the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Inter have all shown an interest in signing the Argentina international.
A possible return to boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys was also mooted, along with a potential foray into MLS with David Beckham-owned franchise Inter Miami.
Messi received several formal offers, including an attractive proposal from PSG, but he ultimately decided to remain a one-club man and continue playing for Barca until 2026 – at which point he will be 39 years of age