Transfer update: Messi close to decision as Arsenal eye Neves
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Lionel Messi is reportedly nearing an official Barcelona exit after his contract issues have been deemed virtually impossible to resolve. The club have been struggling under the weight of immense financial pressure over the past few months, and renewing their talisman’s contract may yet prove a bridge too far.
A deal to secure Messi’s future to Camp Nou was widely believed to be in the pipeline, although the official announcement was put on hold.
Technically, Barca’s best ever player is still a free agent after his existing contract expired over a month ago.
According to Marca, Messi has ‘never been further from renewing with Barcelona than today’, with Radio Catalunya reporting he has told the club he won’t sign a new deal.
The club faced the prospect of drastically slashing their wage bill before announcing Messi’s new deal, along with a host of their summer signings.
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However, with massive earners like Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho still firmly in Catalonia, those problems have still not been dealt with, and time is running out.
The report now claims that the negotiations ‘have reached a point of no return’.
Messi had reportedly agreed to take a 50% wage cut in order to continue at the club, although their situation has now reached a point where even that looks unlikely.
According to RAC1, Messi told the club that he will not sign a new contract due to the uncertainty surrounding the project and financial situation.
The Argentine, now 34-years-old, has been with Barca for more than two decades.
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The prospect of him leaving was previously thought of as unthinkable, despite the fact he seemed fairly close to a switch to Manchester City the last time Barca’s financial issues rose to the fore – 12 months ago.
Across 17 seasons, Messi has notched more than 600 goals for Barcelona, picking up countless individual and team accolades along the way.
Despite being in his mid-thirties, his goal-scoring exploits are showing no sign of slowing down having bagged 38 in all competitions last campaign.
The club had been undergoing a period of transformation with Dutch boss Ronald Koeman, however Messi was still deemed to be central in their plans going forward – he always has been.
Attention will inevitably turn towards where the Argentine will play his club football next season.
With no contract to contend with, he could theoretically move for free, although he would command a serious wage packet.
The development has undoubtedly thrown a major spanner in the works of this summer’s transfer window, while it will come as devastating news for Barca fans, who may yet see the back of their greatest ever player.
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