The Jerusalem Post
Messi to sign 5-year deal with Barcelona
Lionel Messi is set to extend his stay at Barcelona by signing a new five-year deal, with the Argentine talisman set to take a wage cut, La Vanguardia newspaper and ESPN reported late Wednesday.
Messi, Barca’s all-time top scorer and appearance maker, technically ended his 21-year association with the club last month and is currently a free agent after his previous contract expired.
Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, whose manager Pep Guardiola led Messi’s Barcelona squads from 2008 to 2012, courted the six-time Ballon d’Or winner after he expressed desire to leave Catalonia.
The Argentinian’s previous contract was worth over €500 million ($594 million) and that expired on July 1.
Since Joan Laporta took over as Barca president, the club has been trying to reduce its wage bill in order to keep Messi and stay within La Liga’s strict financial control rules.
La Liga chief Javier Tebas said last week that Barcelona, which has a total debt of more than 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion), would not be shown any leniency.
Barcelona’s spending limit has been reduced from over €600 million ($709 million) to €347 million ($410 million) since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laporta replaced Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October. Laporta was Barcelona’s president when Messi made his first-team debut.
Messi’s last contract, signed in 2017, was the most lucrative in world sport. The 34-year-old won his first major international title with Argentina last weekend when it beat rival Brazil in the Copa America final.
Messi joined Barca’s academy in 2000 and has made 778 appearances for the club. He holds the club record for most appearances and goals (672). Together, they have won 34 trophies, including 10 league and four Champions League titles. (Reuters)