Barcelona ‘preparing 3-year deal’ to entice Messi to stay – but club legend MUST take paycut on $90mn salary
Barcelona will offer star player Lionel Messi a three-year deal in the coming weeks in a desperate bid to persuade the Argentine to remain at the club, according to reports.
Messi's current contract expires on June 30, and after deciding not to drag his boyhood club through the courts last summer and force a move to Manchester City, the Argentine ace is finally free to go to a club of his choosing.
Given that then-president Josep Bartomeu resigned in October and has been replaced by Joan Laporta, however, the chances of Messi staying on have vastly improved since one of football's biggest transfer sagas unfolded.
Increased success on-pitch has helped too. Though the Blaugrana stuttered initially under Ronald Koeman, they lifted the Copa del Rey last weekend and Messi has also evidently enjoyed playing alongside young pearls such as Pedri and Ilaix Moriba.
These factors have given Laporta the confidence to publicly profess that Messi will stay on, but as reported by ESPN, sacrifices will have to be made.
For a start, as an internal audit is prepared to measure the extent of Barca's financial woes with debts exceeding $1 billion, the skipper's annual salary of $90.5 million is no longer affordable - which has forced Laporta to study "different formulas".
As part of a two-season deal with an option to extend for another term, then, Messi will be paid over several years even if he heads to the MLS at the age of 37.
"I always had the dream of being able to enjoy and have the experience of living in the United States and experience what the league there is like," he admitted to La Sexta, in a widely-publicized interview at the end of 2020.
Is Messi on his way to the MLS? 🇺🇸"I always said that I have the illusion that I would like to enjoy the experience of living in the United States, of living that league and that life, but if it happens or not I don't know." [La Sexta]👀 pic.twitter.com/Gb2WTE86dc— Goal (@goal) December 28, 2020
During the same sit-down chat with the Spanish media outlet, Messi simultaneously confessed that he sees himself returning to the Catalan capital he has lived in since the age of 12 in a sporting director's role, which would make staggered payments easier to maneuver.
Back in the here and now, though, Laporta can also take advantage of the serial winner's competitive spirit.
He could convince him that a pay cut will help free up funds to land Erling Haaland, and/or grant a long-awaited reunion with Neymar, which would in turn build a title-challenging squad.Also on rt.com Barca ‘optimistic’ over Haaland transfer – but can they really dream of big names amid dire financial straits?
But while the player's father and representative Jorge has already arrived on the Old Continent to oversee negotiations, ESPN were told that there is currently no date set for a showdown with Laporta over the deal that will define the Blaugrana's success for the foreseeable future.
As the club is still in the race for the La Liga crown and merely need to win all seven remaining fixtures to bring it to the Camp Nou for the first time since 2018/2019, LM10 wishes to "focus exclusively on events on the pitch" before rushing into any decisions.
On this day in 2017, Lionel Messi held up his shirt to the Real Madrid crowd after scoring a stoppage-time winner in El Clasico.Iconic 👕 pic.twitter.com/dFLMpPB9BY— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 23, 2021
Elsewhere, Messi today celebrates one of his greatest individual feats in a Barcelona shirt.
On this day in 2017, he sank Real Madrid with a last-minute winner at the Bernabeu that left Los Blancos and their fans stunned, while then going on to taunt them by holding up his shirt to the packed home crowd.