Lionel Messi is going nowhere after reportedly agreeing a new five-year contract to remain at Barcelona while taking a 50 percent pay cut to assist the club with its ongoing financial crisis.
Messi is currently a free agent following the expiration of his contract on June 30, but the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and newly crowned Copa America champion is expected to sign his new deal upon returning to Spain later this month.
The new deal will tie Messi to Barcelona until he is 39 years old, at which point he will have spent 26 consecutive years of his life at the club.
The massive wage reduction was, according to many reports, the only feasible way for Barcelona to re-sign Messi as the club must shed close to $250 million in annual wages just to meet financial requirements set forth by La Liga’s salary rules. The books are so unbalanced that Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia — the club’s first three summer signings, all as free agents — are yet to be registered to play as doing so at this time would put Barcelona in breach of La Liga’s financial regulations.
It was previously revealed that Messi’s last contract paid him $674 million over the four-year term ($168.5 million per year), thus the new deal is expected to pay him close to $85 million per year and just over $420 million should he remain at the club for the duration.
Given Barcelona’s financial predicament, it’s difficult to see how Messi and Co., will improve upon last season’s 3rd-place finish in La Liga (7 points behind champions Atletico Madrid and 5 back of rivals Real Madrid). Without the ability to sign reinforcements — and the likelihood that a number of first-team regulars will have to be moved on just to comply with registration rules, it’s possible that Barcelona could actually be worse off in 2021-22.