Why Messi will leave Barcelona before he is 39
Lionel Messi is set to remain a Barcelona player after reports emerged this week that the Argentine is close to agreeing a new five-year deal with the Blaugrana.
The 34-year old is, remarkably, without a club at the moment as his Barcelona contract expired on 30 June.
A worry for Barca is the fact that he is free to talk to other teams about a free transfer ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
Messi has never played for another club at senior level but has the opportunity to speak to other teams about a potential free transfer.
However, even though he is officially not a Barcelona player, the Catalan side have been working tirelessly to bring him back on a new deal, with president Joan Laporta needing to balance the books before Messi can return.
At the moment the Catalan side is in a terrible state financially. They have over €1.2 billion worth of debts - with extravagant spending on transfer fees and wages crippling the finances, in addition to revenue lost during the pandemic.
With La Liga implementing a wage cap, Barcelona must reduce their wages significantly in order to meet the requirements.
At the moment, they are not able to register Messi or any of their new signings including Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia.
The news of a new deal for Messi has coincided with a deal to send Antoine Griezmann back to Atletico Madrid in a swap deal with Saul Niguez.
Getting the Frenchman off the wage bill would allow Messi to sign back on.
A five-year deal would take Messi up to the age of 39.
Messi will not be playing in La Liga at 39
Many have wondered about the length of this new contract, as previously Messi was on a one-year rolling deal with Barcelona before his departure.
The length of the contract is to do with how much the club can afford to pay the Argentine at the moment.
As part of the new agreement, Messi 's wages will be drastically reduced by 50% from what he was on in his previous contract.
This is so Barcelona can get around the salary limit set by La Liga.
Messi has no intention of playing with Barcelona until 39, so why the five-year deal?
Effectively, Barca plan on paying Messi to the same degree as before, but the salary will be stretched over that five-year period rather than in a shorter contract.
Messi has plans to play in Major League Soccer before he retires, before eventually moving back to Argentina.
Even if that does happen within the next five seasons, he will continue to be paid by Barcelona as if he were a player.
Messi will receive the same salary as before, but simply over a longer period, as the short-term payments will be lower.