Update from Thursday, May 8
Lionel Messi's dad, Jorge, has moved quickly to rubbish claims he asked Barcelona to sign Sergio Aguero as part of negotiations for his son's new contract.
Speaking to Ara Bassas, reported by Marca, Messi Sr. commented:
"Firstly, the meeting focused more on broader contractual matters than exact figures. I cannot combine an improved contract for my son with demands to sign a player or offer another a new deal."
Lionel Messi has reportedly told Barcelona to sign Sergio Aguero and offer Jose Manuel Pinto a contract extension as the Argentinian negotiates a new deal for himself.
Catalan television station TV3 are reporting the Barca icon wishes these terms to be met alongside an increase in wages, via Rik Sharma of the Daily Mail:
Messi is close to striking a deal with the Catalan giants but has asked Barcelona to sign Aguero and offer goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto a contract renewal. He is set to earn around £16.5million a year with up to £3m in bonuses and the economic terms are nearly settled upon.
Messi's current deal is said to earn the 26-year-old £12.5 million per year, reported by Guy Aspin of the Press Association, via the Daily Mail. Already contracted until 2018, Barcelona are keen on keeping their star asset happy at this difficult time for the Camp Nou faithful.
Barca's season has been ravaged with poor form and off-the-field annoyances. Gerardo Martino's men lost the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid, were knocked out of the Champions League to Atletico Madrid and could finish as low as third in La Liga.
Messi, who faced a court case for tax evasion earlier in the season, also missed much of the Christmas schedule through injury. The Neymar transfer scandal, subsequent departure of president Sandro Rosell and imposed transfer ban—which has now been appealed, per Owen Gibson of The Guardian—also outline a difficult season for the Blaugrana.
Current president Josep Maria Bartomeu believes the club should do all it can to keep Messi happy, per Sharma's report:
We are being unfair to Leo. Our club members need to understand that we must take care of Messi. He has made such an important contribution to this club and he will continue to do so. That’s why we have no doubt that he will lead the future of the club. He is young, he is the best player in the world, and we believe in him.
Such comments could see Barcelona spend an awful lot of money. If Messi's demands are true, and he wishes to play alongside Aguero at the club, the Barca hierarchy better get ready to spend.
Sharma notes Messi and his father Jorge want the club to "regain their place among Europe's elite," with the latter raising Aguero's name in a meeting with general director Antoni Rossich and economic vice president Javier Faus.
Aguero has often been touted for a move to Real Madrid, but in February 2013, Manchester City confirmed he is not for sale at any price—per Simon Mullock of the Mirror. He is certainly in the upper echelon of world-class stars, sitting alongside Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale just below the level of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. With this in mind, he could easily raise a world-record fee of £85 million plus.
Messi and Aguero share a strong relationship both on and off the field. The international teammates are used to playing alongside each other for Argentina, where their interlinking style and weaving runs define the South American team's attack. Messi is also the godfather of Aguero's son Benjamin, indicating their family bond could elevate Barca to future success.
Despite both players suffering injury problems this season, plenty of goals have still been scored. Messi currently has 36 strikes in as many appearances across La Liga and the Champions League, while Aguero has 23 in 28 throughout City's Premier League and European adventures, per WhoScored.com.
Aguero's role as a conventional striker would actually place Messi's central position under threat. If the City star did arrive, Messi might have to revert to his old position toward the right flank in order to accommodate his compatriot.
As noted by Yahoo! Eurosport, "Messi is Messi, whatever he says goes in Barcelona." This kind of attitude could spell danger if the player is able to dictate who the club signs. On the flip side, keeping Messi content is paramount to Barca's success, as he remains irreplaceable.
It is likely Barcelona will entertain the idea of signing Aguero but highly unlikely they can land him. With UEFA's financial fair play rules now in effect, City will hold Barcelona to ransom if they can even be convinced to sell. Considering the Spanish team need new centre-backs and improvements across the squad, the type of cash is difficult to mobilise in the future.
The club should undoubtedly focus on securing Messi's future before considering high-profile attacking targets like Aguero. Reinforcements are needed at the Camp Nou, there's no doubt about that, but Messi may be mistaken if he believes the board are going to spend massively on bringing Aguero back to Spain.
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