August 02, (THEWILL) – There was pleasing news for Barcelona fans recently as their pre-season matches have turned out to be extremely pleasurable to watch with three out of three victories, 10 goals scored and only one conceded with the added flavour of new sign-in Memphis Depay apparently fitting in nicely with two goals to compliment the four scored by Rey Manaj.
However, the pleasure from that overall positive team feeling will be nothing compared to how much pleasure awaits them with the news that club icon Lionel Messi has reached a “total agreement” with La Blaugrana over a new five-year contract.
A package like that, that keeps him at the Camp Nou into his 39th birthday, secures what may be a retirement plan for him. There may have been a dip in his lightning pace over time but nothing stops Messi from delivering his standard premium contributions to the side until 2026.
As THEWILL reported, the “Little Magician” officially became a free agent at the end of June when his previous contract expired and there was no immediate extension due to certain financial constraints bedevilling the Catalan giants, remotely in the league and within the club itself.
However, to their advantage, this time, there was nothing resembling the previous summer transfer season when the six-time Ballon d’Or winner almost succeeded in forcing through a transfer for himself out of the club he had played the entire of his senior professional career in for a myriad of reasons, no less being the discontent between Messi and former club president.
Without that rancour and with the amicable relationship that currently exists between Messi and returnee President Joan Laporta, an official recommitment of the Argentine to the club was expected for some time before the contract expired.
It was a relief for the fans to discover through information filtered from details emerging from the Catalan side in mid-July that Messi had come to an “agreement in principle” with Barça. THEWILL learnt that this deal included a 50% pay cut, in light of the club’s dire financial straits.
Messi had constantly conferred with Laporta and understood the club’s position enough to accept that his responsibility as club captain and as a club icon is enough justification to lead by example. The agreement is in the final stages and will be ready for Messi to sign when completed.
What will still trouble Barca will be the continued attempts at reducing the club’s wage bill. It has proven a lot more difficult than expected as Barca has not been able to move many of the club’s high earners, such as Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann, Samuel Umtiti and a few others elsewhere and yet have welcomed Depay and Sergio Aguero.
And now, their high salary structure must fall in line with La Liga’s salary cap rules before the Catalan side will be allowed by the La Liga to actually register any the new contract, which includes Messi.
Laporta has his hands full working out transfers for those high earners mentioned above including Miralem Pjanic and Martin Braithwaiten while also negotiating salary deferrals with senior team members like Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto at the same time, to make sure Messi can be signed.
As they attempt to sort that out ahead of the imminent resumption of the new season and the shutdown of the transfer window, Messi, the man at the centre of the frantic pace that Barca is now employing to bring him back to the squad is holidaying with family and close friends Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas in Ibiza still enjoying the post-Copa America victorious feeling.