The panic is over for Barcelona’s faithful as Leo Messi agreed on a five-year contract extension to remain at Camp Nou. The new deal will keep him with Barca until he’s almost 40-years old.
Catalonian paper Sport claims all of the details have been agreed to in the talks between Barcelona and Messi. Club president Joan Laporta now needs to cut the wage bill so Messi’s new contract can be registered with the Spanish league. The official announcement of the new deal is expected to follow this week.
Messi, 34, has been out of contract since July 1 when his previous deal with Barcelona expired. Messi’s father, Jorge, was in charge of the negotiations. Messi accepted a massive 50% pay cut to his current wage to help Barcelona climb out of the financial abyss it’s fallen into. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner wanted to leave Barcelona last year because he believed the club was going in the wrong direction. He changed his opinion after Joan Laporta was elected president at the beginning of March.
Messi is still with his family in Ibiza and won’t return to training until his contract extension is formalized. Messi and his family spent time with the families of former Barcelona colleagues Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas on the luxurious Spanish island.
🚨 La situación de Dembélé ha dado un giro y podría firmar en breve por una o dos temporadas más https://t.co/QLxCzJu97x
— Diario SPORT (@sport) August 3, 2021
Barca’s plans: What’s next?
After agreeing to terms with Messi, Laporta now wants other Barca veterans to accept pay cuts of their own. Pique, Busquets, Alba, and Sergi Roberto are all expected to lose 40% of their earnings. Umtiti, Pjanic, and Braithwaite are on their way out, with Griezmann and Coutinho will only stay if they reduce their salaries.
Ousmane Dembele is another problem at the club, with the Frenchman becoming a free agent in 2022. Barcelona is confident it can extend his contract until 2023 or 2024, giving him space to return from an injury that’s expected to keep him out until November. Dembele, who was signed by Dortmund in return for a staggering $190 million in 2017, is still a big part of Ronald Koeman’s plans at Barcelona. The winger hasn’t produced the desired impact at Camp Nou, being out with injuries on more than a few occasions.
A new concern for Laporta is Ilaix Moriba’s contract situation. The talented Guinea-born midfielder also finishes his contract with Barcelona in 2022. Unlike Dembele, Ilaix doesn’t wish to extend his deal and could be forced on the sidelines for a whole year.
“The Ilaix situation can’t be repeated, a player developed by the club waiting for the final year of his deal to force the situation,” Joan Laporta said. “He doesn’t want to renew with the conditions offered by the club. We cannot accept that so we have to send a message. He’s a great player but if he doesn’t renew there are other solutions. I feel bad, but the club comes first,” Laporta added.
While Barca would like to keep Ilaix on its roster, Laporta said the club won’t “promote a player for him to move to another club for free [in 2022] … I don’t understand why he doesn’t recognize what Barca have done for him. Whoever wants to leave is free to do so on certain conditions, of course.”
Ilaix is just 18, but he’s already played 18 games for Barcelona’s first team, scoring one goal. He is reportedly a target for Manchester City and Chelsea.