Barcelona, Spain, Jul 1 (EFE).- FC Barcelona are working to secure a contract extension for star player Lionel Messi within the coming days after the Argentina forward became a free agent as of midnight Thursday.
Messi’s most recent contract with the Catalan team expired on June 30 with no renewal in place. A clause in his Barça deal allows him to voluntarily walk away from the club at the end of each season.
FC Barcelona sources told Efe however that the club was certain that Messi, widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, would stay, and that both sides of the negotiation table wanted an agreement “as soon as possible.”
The reason for the delay can be found in the fine print of the proposed contract, which, according to Catalunya Ràdio, would last two seasons and keep Messi in the captain’s armband.
First of all, there is the issue of Messi’s salary, which must abide by LaLiga’s financial fair play rules.
The debt-riddled club is obliged to drastically reduce its player salaries, which currently absorb 110% of Barça’s revenues, battered by the pandemic and the poor management of the previous board.
FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who was elected after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned in October last year, previously said he hoped to clinch the new deal with Messi to present him at the club on 24 June, a Catalan holiday coinciding with Messi’s 34th birthday.
Although technically a free agent, Barça is banking on him staying put and his famous number 10 shirt remains the star attraction of the club’s official store.
Messi dramatically tried to leave Barcelona last year but backed down to avoid a legal fight with the club.
He is currently on international duty with Argentina in the Copa America.EFE