Lionel Messi is set to extend his stay at Barcelona by signing a new five-year deal with a significant wage cut.
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.
Lionel Messi after Argentina’s Copa America victory last week.Credit:Getty
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, who have a total debt of more than €1 billion ($1.6 billion), would not be shown leniency.
Messi’s last contract, signed in 2017, was the most lucrative in world sport according to a January report in newspaper El Mundo.
The club has been trying to rebuild the squad with Junior Firpo, Jean-Clair Todibo and Carles Alena being sold to make way for free signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia.
Messi, 34, won his first major international title with Argentina over the weekend when they beat rivals Brazil in the Copa America final.
Messi was elected the tournament’s joint-best player along with Neymar after finishing as the tournament’s joint top goal scorer with four strikes. He also topped the assist charts with five.
Messi became a free agent when his contract expired at the end of last season. 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 a desire to leave Catalonia. The announcement came after an 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last August.
An official announcement is expected in the coming days, ESPN reported.
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