BARCELONA – Barcelona president Joan Laporta said LaLiga’s financial fair play rules are delaying Lionel Messi’s signing of a new agreement with the club.
The 34-year-old Messi became a free agent for the first time in his professional career on Thursday when his € 500 million ($ 594 million) contract with Barça expired at the stroke of midnight on July 1.
LaLiga president Javier Tebas has warned the Catalan club that they must make cuts in order to register any new contracts with Messi before next season.
“We want him to stay and Leo wants to stay; everything is on the right track,” Laporta told Onda Cero on Thursday.
“We still have to solve the [asunto] of financial fair play … we are in the process of finding the best solution for all parties. “
Barça had the largest salary cap in Spain before the pandemic at 671 million euros ($ 796 million) a year, but by March, that had almost halved to 347 million euros (412 million euros). Dollars).
The cleaning began last summer with the departures of Luis Suárez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic, but Barça needs to reduce its payroll even more to be able to register Messi’s new contract and his four summer signings: Sergio Agüero, Eric García, Memphis Depay and Emerson Royal.
So far, Barça has only been able to move on marginal players during the transfer window, with the departure of Juan Miranda, Jean-Clair Todibo, Matheus Fernandes and Konrad de la Fuente. Left-back Junior Firpo will also move to Leeds United.
However, the club has hit a brick wall when it comes to ditching the big paychecks. There has not yet been any movement on Neto, Samuel Umtiti, Philippe Coutinho or Miralem Pjanic.
Club sources say they expect things to pick up speed once Euro 2020 and the America’s Cup are over, while they are also looking at other ways to reduce the payroll.
Any money Barça get from transfers could also help raise their salary cap for next season.
Messi’s last four-year contract, which expired on June 30, was worth more than 500 million euros ($ 594 million) and combined the hiring fees, his salary, bonuses and image rights.
Barca cannot afford to pay him the same rate and are exploring ways to compensate him over a longer period of time to make sure he doesn’t have to accept too big of a pay cut.
Options include continuing to pay him as an ambassador if he decides to leave Barca for Major League Soccer in a couple of years, as he has expressed he would like, and the opportunity to return to the club after that in a backup position.
Messi officially registered as a Barcelona player 20 years ago, in 2001, and has always been hired by the club ever since.
He asked to leave last summer, but then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu told him no. Laporta has since replaced Bartomeu and ESPN explained Wednesday that Messi has, as a result, been open to extending his stay at Camp Nou.
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been following the situation for the past six months, but neither seems willing to make a serious move for the Argentine international.
However, the importance of Messi becoming a free agent did not go unnoticed, with former club Newell’s Old Boys inviting him back on social media, while the Brazilian Ibis Sport Club promised him “the worst team in the world” if he join them.