Barcelona are thought to have finally reached an agreement in principle with Camp Nou legend Lionel Messi over a new long-term contract, including a huge 50% pay cut on his previous deal in light of the club’s widely known financial problems.
Messi has officially been a free agent since 1 July after his old contract expired. Despite formally asking to leave the club last summer, it has been thought for several months that he would be signing a new deal. However, Barça’s precarious finances have made it an enormous challenge.
The Catalans have been stung by La Liga’s salary restrictions following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their usual incomes and must raise significant funds before new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia can be officially registered.
The same goes for Messi’s contract, although at least an agreement now appears to be in place.
Local publication SPORT writes that Messi understands Barça’s position and has agreed to be paid only half of his previous salary. It is said that he also accepts he should set an example, although money - other than additional care over taxation - was never believed to be a real issue for him.
SPORT adds that while the agreement is in place, writing up the contract in detail is expected to take some time because of its complex nature. Therefore, an official announcement from the club or pictures of Messi signing it are not actually likely until the end of the month.
Previous reports on Messi’s contract situation suggested that a new deal would only see him stay at Barça for three years, with a clause allowing him to subsequently move to MLS, while serving the club as an ambassador in North America, before returning to Camp Nou in an executive role.
However, that kind of thinking appears to have ultimately been left out of the proposal and instead it is expected to be a straight five-year contract, which would see Messi through to his 39th birthday.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is said to have the passion and energy to keep going at Barça for five years, despite having previously planned to walk away after three to pursue other things.