Lionel Messi has agreed a significant pay cut in order to remain at Barcelona and will sign a five-year contract in the coming days, according to reports.
Messi, 34, has been a free agent since his previous four-year deal expired on June 30, but though the Argentinian was widely linked with Manchester City and Paris St Germain last summer, it had been anticipated that a deal would be reached for him to extend his 20-year association with Barca.
Messi’s relationship with former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu had become strained after the club’s 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich last season, but he has been happier since the re-election of Joan Laporta in March.
Finding a solution has not been straightforward, however, given Barca’s crippling debts and need to cut costs in order to meet LaLiga’s Financial Fair Play rules.
But according to reports in Spain and beyond, Messi has agreed to take a 50 per cent pay cut compared to his previous contract, which was worth more than 125 million euros (£105million) per season, while continuing his playing career until 2026 at least.
The contract will allow Messi to extend a Barcelona career which began when he joined the academy in 2000. He has made 778 appearances and scored 672 goals – both club records – while winning 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns.
Last weekend, Messi helped Argentina to victory over Brazil in the Copa America final to win his first major international trophy.