Lionel Messi becomes free agent after his Barcelona contract expires
Argentine star Lionel Messi has become a free agent after his contract with Barcelona expired on Wednesday. If he doesn't sign a new contract, this would mark an end to his 20-year stay at Camp Nou. It is understood that Barcelona remain confident of retaining Messi. Although a raw agreement is in place, Barca are expected to come up with the details soon.
What is the current status?
It has been reported that the two parties are in consistent dialogue. Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been communicating with Jorge Messi, the player's father and agent. Barcelona are taking time to finalize the agreement due to their uncertain financial situation and the complex nature of Messi's demands. As per a report in Goal, both sides continue to discuss economic and tax-related issues.
Will La Liga register Messi's new deal?
La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned Barcelona they may not be able to register Messi's new deal if they don't make cutbacks. Ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barca had the league's highest wage bill (more than €600 million per season). That has been mowed down to €300 million. Messi's recent contract, signed in 2017, was over €500 million over four years.
Messi wants to stay at Barcelona
Messi, who recently turned 34, told Barca he wanted to leave last summer. However, he seems to have changed his decision. As per reports, the resignation of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, with whom he had differences with, is the reason behind Messi's decision. The return of Laporta, who was previously in charge between 2003 and 2010, has also been a major factor.
Messi demands assurances from the club
Besides the financial considerations, Messi is also looking for assurances that the club will be able to build a competitive team around him in future. Barcelona won the Copa del Rey in 2020/21 but missed out on La Liga and the Champions League titles. They haven't won the Champions League since 2015, and are yet to win La Liga since 2018/19.
Copa America: Messi scored twice as Argentina beat Bolivia
Messi scored twice in a 4-1 win over Bolivia in 2021 Copa America. In the process, he became Argentina's most-capped player (148th), having surpassed the record of Javier Mascherano. Argentina next face Ecuador in the quarter-final on Saturday as Messi eyes his first major trophy with the side. In his presence, they have lost three Copa America finals and one World Cup final.