Lionel Messi is to part ways with Barcelona. While both player and club had agreed to a five-year contract extension, La Liga’s salary cap rules mean that despite the parties’ agreement, the new contract cannot be signed under league rules. Messi’s old contract expired earlier this summer.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta revealed on Friday that the club would have been spending 110 per cent of their annual revenue on player salaries if they had kept Messi, who had agreed to a five-year extension that would have come at a significantly reduced rate. Agreeing to La Liga’s proposed sale of a 10 per cent stake in the competition to private equity firm CVC would have allowed Barca to keep their greatest ever player but they are refusing to back that deal.
Laporta was keen to lay the blame for the club’s financial chaos at the door of his predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu and revealed that Barcelona is on course to lose nearly $600 million for the 2020-21 season. Asked whether Barca and Messi could draw themselves back from the precipice Laporta insisted that he did not want to offer any “false hope” without quite admitting that there is no chance that the No.10 could extend his 21-year stay in Catalonia.
Sources have told CBS Sports that Paris Saint-Germain is working to secure Messi’s signature and believe that the cost of signing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner could be mitigated by the revenue his acquisition would drive for the Ligue 1 giants. According to Fabrizio Romano, they have made direct contact with the player’s camp to negotiate a deal. PSG appears to be the frontrunners for a deal that only they and a handful of Premier League clubs could realistically afford.
This is the latest chapter in a saga that began a year ago when Messi first revealed he wanted to leave the only club he’d ever played for. Although he ultimately relented on taking Barcelona to court in order to get out of the last year of his contract, his contractual situation was never fully settled. Although it seemed as though the election of Laporta to return to Barcelona as president made it likely Messi would stay, the details were never completely ironed out and now, it seems, La Liga rules continue to stand in the way.