Lionel Messi Inks 5-Year Deal To Stay at Barcelona

By in Sports on
3 Minute Read
  • Messi will sign a five-year deal that will keep him at the Camp Nou through 2026
  • ESPN says Messi took a pay cut in order to stay
  • Barcelona may still have to offload salary before next season, with Antoine Griezmann being a potential departure

After over a year of uncertainty, Lionel Messi has finally committed to remaining with Barcelona. ESPN reported Wednesday that Messi has officially agreed to a new five-year pact with the club that will keep him at the Camp Nou through 2026. 

Messi’s previous deal, a four-year pact worth nearly $600 million, expired at the end of June. The 34-year-old had received interest from both Manchester City and Paris St. Germain after the expiration of his old contract. The all-everything forward had grown skeptical of the club’s future amid turmoil over the past year, but Joan Laporta’s return as club president this past March was seen as a turning point. 

Despite the fact that the club is over $1 billion in debt, Barcelona has spent money on the transfer market in an attempt to improve the team’s chances of competing for trophies in the near future. While the team’s spending limit was slashed dramatically from over $600 million to about $360 million after the pandemic, Barcelona have still signed Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, and Eric Garcia so far this summer.

Messi To Take Wage Cut

Financial terms of Messi’s new deal have not been disclosed, though ESPN did report that Messi agreed to take a significant pay cut in order to extend his stay. La Liga president Javier Tebas said earlier this year that Barcelona will have to comply with the league’s financial pair play rules, and that they may not be allowed to register Messi’s new contract if the team exceeds its spending limit. 

While the return of Messi is certainly crucial to Barcelona’s future, the team will still have to shed payroll in order to balance the books. ESPN said that sources close to the club have not ruled out the potential departure of Antoine Griezmann this summer. Griezmann, who won the 2018 World Cup with France, came to Barcelona for over $120 million from Atletico Madrid just two years ago.

Messi is currently on vacation just days after leading Argentina to a major championship for the first time. Argentina defeated Brazil in the Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. An official announcement about Messi’s new pact is expected upon his return to Spain in the coming days. 

Barcelona are slated to begin the 2021-22 season at home against Real Sociedad on August 15. Ronald Koeman, who received plenty of criticism after Barcelona once again failed to win the league in his first season in charge, will officially return for a second campaign as manager.

Messi initially said he would be open to leaving Barcelona following the club’s 8-2 humiliation in the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich in the summer of 2020. His relationship with the team’s then-president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, had soured, and he no longer believed the team was capable of competing for major titles.

Bartomeu wound up resigning last October before Laporta returned as his replacement earlier this year. Laporta and Messi have had a good relationship for years, as Laporta was in charge when Messi made his first-team debut with the club in 2004. Messi has been with the club since signing for the team’s youth academy in 2000. 

Messi’s Incredible Run at Barca

Messi has won just about everything there is to win at the club level with Barcelona. Barca have won La Liga 10 times with Messi in the fold, in addition to seven Copa Del Rey victories, seven Supercopa de Espana titles, four UEFA Champions League wins, and three titles in the FIFA Club World Cup. Messi has also won the Ballon d’Or, soccer’s highest individual honor, a record six times. 

Messi’s 672 goals with Barcelona is a club record, and he broke Xavi Hernandez’s old record for appearances (778) last season. Laporta said back in April that he was optimistic that a new deal with Messi would get done. ESPN reported back then that the pact may include the option to play in Major League Soccer in the US before the end of his playing career, with the chance to return to Barcelona in a new role after retirement.

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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