Argentine superstar, Lionel Messi has become a free agent from today, July 1st, 2021 as his contract at Barcelona expires on Wednesday, and he is yet to sign a renewal to extend his 20-year stay at Camp Nou.
However, a loose agreement is in place, and Barcelona remain confident of agreeing to a new contract with the forward.
The Catalan club are pressing ahead with tying up the final details with the aim of announcing it as soon as possible.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned the club they may not be able to register Messi’s new deal if they don’t make cutbacks elsewhere.
Prior to the pandemic, Barca had the league’s highest wage bill at more than €600 million per season. However, that has since been cut to just over €300m.
Messi’s most recent contract with the club, signed in 2017, was worth more than €500m over four years, including his salary, bonuses and image rights.
Barca, whose gross debt is over €1 billion, cannot afford to pay Messi as much this time around and have had to be creative with their contract offer.
ESPN revealed earlier this year that president Joan Laporta had drawn up a two-year contract with the option for an additional year.
The club also want to give Messi freedom to move to Major League Soccer at some point, where he would act as a Barca ambassador before returning to the club in a backroom role of his choosing.
Laporta has said the financial side of the deal is not important to Messi, who is more interested in assurances of having a competitive team built around him.
Barca have not won the Champions League since 2015 and have gone two seasons without winning La Liga.