Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said La Liga financial fair play rules prevent Lionel Messi from signing a new deal with the club.
Messi, 34, became a free agent for the first time in his professional career on Thursday when his contract with Barca expired.
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La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned the Catalan club that they need to make cuts to be able to register any new deal with Messi before next season.
“We want him to stay and Leo wants to stay, everything is on track”, Laporta told Onda Cero Thursday.
“We always have financial fair play [issue] to settle … we are in the process of finding the best solution for all parties. “
Barca had the biggest salary cap in Spain before the pandemic at € 671m per year but, by March, it had been almost halved to € 347m.
The release began last summer with the departures of Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic, but Barca still need to cut their payrolls to be able to save Messi’s new deal and their four summer signings: Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Memphis Depay and Emerson Royal.
So far, Barca have 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 is also set to move to Leeds United.
However, the club have come up against a brick wall when it comes to getting rid of the big payrolls. There has not yet been any movement on Neto, Samuel Umtiti, Philippe Coutinho or Miralem Pjanic.
Club sources say they expect things to speed up once Euro 2020 and the Copa America are over, as they also explore other ways to cut payrolls.
All the money Barca will bring in 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 € 500million by combining signing fees, his salary, bonuses and image rights.
Barca can’t afford to pay him the same rate and are exploring ways to compensate him over a longer period to ensure he doesn’t have to take too big a pay cut.
Options include continuing to pay him in an ambassadorial role if he chooses to leave Barca for Major League Soccer in a few years, as he has expressed he would like, and the chance to return to the club after that. in a behind-the-scenes role.
Messi was officially registered for the first time as a Barcelona player 20 years ago, in 2001, and since then he has always been under contract with the club.
He asked to leave last summer, but then president Josep Maria Bartomeu told him no. Laporta has since replaced Bartomeu and ESPN explained on Wednesday that Messi, as a result, has become 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 appear ready to play seriously for the Argentina international.
However, the importance of Messi becoming a free agent has not gone unnoticed, with former club Newell’s Old Boys urging him to return to social media, while Brazilian minnows Ibis Sport Club promised him “the worst time in the world” if he joined them.