Lionel Messi finally got what he wished for last summer in becoming a free agent on June 30, 2021.
The difference this time is that unlike when FC Barcelona had been drubbed 8-2 in the Champions League by eventual winners Bayern Munich, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner wishes to stay put and not entertain offers from the likes of Manchester City and PSG.
A weight lifted off his shoulders after finally delivering major silverware for his country, Messi has been living the good life in Florida and Ibiza on holiday with his family while Joan Laporta and his team work around the clock to finalize his new contract.
As already reported, there is a “total agreement” between the club and its greatest ever player which will see Messi committed to the cause for a further five years while taking a 50% pay cut.
Messi did not report to training on Monday as was expected, but sources told ESPN that the 34-year-old has decided to wait until his new deal is ready to start taking orders from coach Ronald Koeman again.
Furthermore, though the Blaugrana were happy for him to use the facilities at the Joan Gamper training center, he’d need special insurance to do so.
Speaking of whom, a return on Sunday has been penciled in to coincide with the friendly fixture for the trophy named after the club’s swiss founder, which this year takes place at the Camp Nou against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.
At full time, the captain speaks to the crowd and a global TV audience on his hopes and ambitions for the upcoming campaign, and it would be somewhat embarrassing for the ritual not to be performed by Messi.
On Wednesday, Mundo Deportivo report that Laporta “hopes to be able to close” the final details of Messi’s new deal today and announce the new agreement tomorrow.
“As soon as the renewal of the Argentine star can be specified,” they add, “the president wants to announce it and celebrate it in a big way, given the magnitude of the news for the institution and for the Barça fans.”
Time is ticking.