Barcelona may be powerless to secure the services of talisman Lionel Messi ahead of next season as La Liga salary cap rules mean that the Catalan giants reportedly have to clear several hundred million euros from their wage bill.
The cash-strapped Spanish giants are understood to have agreed a deal in principle with six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi for him to sign a new contract at the club he has represented since he was a boy, less than a year after he aggressively agitated for a move away from the Camp Nou.
Messi is currently a free agent after his previous Barcelona deal expired on June 30, meaning that he is free to discuss terms with any club who may be in the position to pay his gargantuan salary – but is thought to be eager to formalize what is thought to be a two-year contract on the table from Barcelona president Joan Laporta.
But the situation may we out of the control of both Messi and Barcelona owing to the club’s dire financial situation. They have suffered massive financial losses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and with a debt reported to be north of $1 billion they must make some significant cuts to their wage bill – or face the wrath of La Liga chief Javier Tebas who has admitted rules are in place which could prevent Barcelona from registering any new contracts – including Messi’s.
This would mean that Messi would be ineligible to play for Barcelona next season, likely hastening a transfer to another of Europe’s elite clubs.
Messi’s last contract was understood to be worth up to an incredible $168 million per year – and while Messi brings a host of financial and marketing opportunities with him, it would still require what would essentially amount to a fire-sale at the Camp Nou.
The issue is further complicated by concerns within the Barcelona hierarchy about registering recent free agent signing Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia.
Joan Laporta, though, has called for calm amongst the club’s fanbase as they face the prospect of losing Lionel Messi despite all parties apparently wanting him to remain with the club.
“We want Lionel Messi to stay and Leo wants to stay,” he said of the club legend.
“Everything is on track. We have the issue of Financial Fair Play, we are in the process of finding the best solution for both parties.”
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Several players, including Matheus Fernandes, Juan Miranda, Konrad De La Fuente, Jean-Clair Todibo and Trincao have already departed the club in recent times – but the club are still struggling to find buyers for some of their higher earners like Philippe Coutinho, Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti.
But no departure would be felt quite as sorely as that of Lionel Messi – and particularly if that situation comes about as a result of financial impropriety rather than any on-the-field matters.