Free agent and six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is set to sign a five year contract with FC Barcelona, and an announcement to confirm his new contract is imminent, according to reports.
On Wednesday afternoon in Catalonia, Mundo Deportivo claimed that the Argentine, who has just won his first major tournament with La Albiceleste in Brazil at the Copa America, has finally reached an agreement with his club of over 20 years.
His old deal expiring on June 30, the 34-year-old is currently not tied to any outfit, but there has never been a risk of him having his head swayed by another European rival such as Manchester City or PSG.
This was the case last summer when he tried to force an exit, but relented due to a wish not to drag Barca through the courts while accusing former president Josep Bartomeu of not keeping his word.
Getting Messi to stay on until retirement has been the chief priority of Bartomeu’s successor Joan Laporta, who took over the reins in March, as much financial wrangling needs to be done not to exceed La Liga’s salary cap.
Barca are apparently aware that due to his advancing years, Messi is not likely to complete the full half-decade on the Camp Nou pitch yet can head to the US as an ambassador for the club while plying his trade in Major League Soccer and still receiving payments from the Catalans.
According to L’Esportiu, his release clause will be set at around $700mn and there will be a renewal bonus added to a salary of roughly $24mn per year – which is much lower than his last contract believed to exceed $80mn.
As hungry as ever for trophies, Messi has accepted this inferior sum to help get around league regulations and help Barca build the winning team he has always demanded, with a swap for Saul Niguez that sees Antoine Griezmann head back to Atletico Madrid rumored in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, before the start of new La Liga campaign in mid-August, more players sales of high earners are expected and some may even be released from their contracts if buyers cannot be found.