Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona have agreed to a new five-year deal that would keep the forward at the club with a significant wage cut, ESPN reported.
Messi became a free agent this summer after his contract expired. Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, whose manager Pep Guardiola led Messi’s Barcelona squads from 2008 to 2012, courted the six-time Ballon d’Or winner after he expressed a desire to leave Catalonia. This came after an 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last August.
The Argentinian’s previous contract was worth over €500 million ($594 million) and that expired on July 1.
An official announcement is expected in the coming days, ESPN reported.
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Club President Joan Laporta hoped to finalize an agreement before the contract expired but the club’s finances made the move difficult. Messi’s lower salary, player transfers and budget cuts helped alleviate the concerns and comply with Financial Fair Play rules.
Financial Fair play was introduced by UEFA to prevent clubs from spending beyond their means and reduce unsustainable debt. Clubs can spend up to €5 million ($5.9 million) more than they earn every assessment period or three years.
According to ESPN, Barcelona’s spending limit has been reduced from over €600 million ($709 million) to €347 million ($410 million) since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laporta replaced Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October before a vote of no confidence. Laporta was Barcelona’s president when Messi made his first-team debut.
Messi joined Barcelona’s academy in 2000 and has made 778 appearances for the club. He holds the club record for most appearances and goals (672). Together, they have won 34 trophies including 10 league and four Champions League titles.
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