Barcelona icon Lionel Messi has reached a ‘total agreement’ with the club over a new five-year contract that promises to secure his future at Camp Nou until 2026, by which time he will be 39.
Messi has officially been a free agent since the end of June when his previous contract expired. But, unlike last summer when he formally asked to leave the club, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has been expected for some time to recommit to Barça.
News filtered through in mid-July that Messi had come to an ‘agreement in principle’ with Barça, which includes a 50% pay cut in light of the club’s dire financial situation.
It was explained at the time that Messi fully understands the club’s position and accepted that, as club captain, he should be the one to set an example to others in the squad.
Since then, time has been taken to write up the contract in full ready for signing, with SPORT now reporting that the agreement between player and club is final and is expected to become official within a matter of days.
However, the issue for Barça president Joan Laporta remains sufficiently cutting salaries elsewhere to fall in line with La Liga’s salary cap rules and allow the club to actually register the new contract.
SPORT adds that Messi remains on holiday with his family and close friends Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas in Ibiza in the wake of winning the Copa America with Argentina earlier this summer.
Messi is not expected to return to training until he has signed his new contract, which puts additional pressure on the club to get the finances sufficiently in order to make it possible.
It is said that Barça are attempting to negotiate salary deferrals with Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto, as well as working on deals to move on Samuel Umtiti, Miralem Pjanic and Martin Braithwaite. Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho are obvious high earners to get rid of to bring salary costs down, but each could yet stay if they agree to significant cuts.