Lionel Messi will become a free agent in seven days’ time if an agreement is not reached with Barcelona to renew his contract, as the Argentina international keeps the Catalan club on edge.
There had been reports that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, who turns 34 on June 24, had already accepted Barcelona’s offer of a contract renewal, but the player’s entourage have confirmed to MARCA that he has not yet made a decision. In fact, Messi has not received Barcelona’s official offer just yet.
The countdown until the end of Messi’s contract has already begun, yet Barcelona remain confident that, despite interest from elsewhere, he will commit his short-term future at the Camp Nou. They had, however, hoped that he would have agreed by now.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta still hopes that Messi will sign his contract prior to June 30 and therefore not become unattached to a club, but this seems increasingly unlikely. That is the view of Messi’s entourage at least, as they have been in talks with the Catalan club for some time now and there has been little progression.
Messi has been offered a two-year deal worth a gross salary of 50 million euros – more or less half of what he currently earns – in addition to a 10-year agreement to be linked to Barcelona as a club ambassador, which would be tied to him even if goes to play in MLS. He would earn 10 million euros in this period as a club ambassador.
The fact that Messi’s response has been delayed is causing some concern at Barcelona, who are trying to plan for next season with the Argentine front and centre. As Laporta himself has recognised, Messi is not just a star on the pitch but also away from it, as he brings in a third of the club’s income, which is around 650 million euros.
As such, until Messi commits his future to Barcelona, any sponsorship deals and things of this nature have been put on the back-burner. It is the same for fans too, with eight out of every 10 Barcelona shirts having his name emblazoned on the back.
The Barcelona board and the club’s supporters were shocked when Messi announced that he wanted to leave last summer, but they will be hoping they do not have to go through a similar experience this year under Laporta’s leadership.