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Lionel Messi has ended speculation about his future by agreeing to a new contract with Barcelona, according to reports. Messi has been a free agent since the start of July, but is now expected to sign a new five-year deal with Barca, having accepted the need to take a significant wage reduction.
Barcelona are in a difficult situation financially, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating things following a period of overspending.
The Spanish giants have a whopping £1,003million (€1,173m) of debt in total and currently owe £276m (€323m) in transfer fees.
The situation is so dire that Barca president Joan Laporta has been unable to register new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia and returning loanee Emerson Royal, as well as Messi.
It has previously been reported that Laporta needs to get £171m (€200m) off the club’s wage bill this summer just to continue functioning.
A new contract for Messi has therefore been a difficult thing to work out, especially considering the 34-year-old pulled in around £425m (€500m) from Barca over the previous four years.
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Things have been further complicated by Messi’s participation in the Copa America, but now that has concluded – with an Argentina win over Brazil in the final – progress has been made.
According to ESPN, Messi has agreed to take a wage cut in return for the stability of a five-year deal, which will keep him at the club until the age of 39.
The report states that an official announcement is expected in ‘the coming days’, even though Messi is currently on holiday and not expected to return until later in the summer before Barca’s campaign begins against Real Sociedad on August 15.
The news puts an end to speculation that he could join Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City this summer.
Messi spoke openly of his desire to end his 20-year association with Barcelona last summer and was free to speak to other clubs from January, when he entered the final six months of his contract.
A link-up with former Barca manager Pep Guardiola had been mooted, while PSG are one of the only other clubs capable of affording his wages.
David Beckham’s new MLS franchise, Inter Miami, have spoken of their desire to lure Messi to Florida, but it now seems the Argentine superstar will finish his playing career in Catalonia.
While Barcelona have already released Matheus Fernandes and offloaded Junior Firpo (Leeds), Francisco Trincao (Wolves), Konrad De La Fuente (Marseille) and Jean Claire-Todibo (Nice), further work is understood to be necessary.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has drawn a line in the sand, and despite Barca’s spending limit being reduced from over £510 (€600m) to £295 (€347m) during the coronavirus pandemic, more reductions are needed.
Barca are open to selling Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann this summer, but finding buyers could prove difficult.
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