Barcelona would reportedly have to pay Lionel Messi a huge compensation fee if they decided to sell him ahead of the expiration of his current contract.
While it is hugely unlikely that Barca would ever consider selling the Argentinian superstar—he recently won his fifth Ballon d'Or—there have been intermittent rumours that he could be tempted to leave the Camp Nou, per Sport's Tomas Andreu.
However, due to the terms of Messi's contract—which runs until June 30, 2018—the La Liga giants would reportedly have to pay off Messi handsomely were they to decide to sell him, per Catalan newspaper Ara (via Sport): "In the case Barcelona decided to sell him [before June 2016], they would have to pay Messi €19,941,000 (£15,069,669). [Ara] also claim that if they sold him in 2017 it would be a fee of €9,970,000 (£7,534,456)."
The report also indicated the 28-year-old is set to receive a new deal at Barcelona, and his salary will increase this summer from €22.8 million (£17.2 million) per year to €39.4 million (£29.8 million) a year.
Any thoughts of Messi leaving Barca will be completely quashed if and when he signs a new deal.
Indeed, he confirmed after his Ballon d'Or victory he wanted to finish his career with the Blaugrana, per French outlet L'Equipe (via AS):
AS English @English_AS
"I’ll end my career at my home - Barça" Messi tells L’Équipe https://t.co/HiOkhZ4Qte https://t.co/sTO4AKKtQ12016-1-12 11:49:33
The rumours will likely continue linking him with a huge-money deal to another major European club, but the fact that Barca would have to pay him such massive compensation is simply one more reason to keep hold of him.
Add to that that he is arguably the best player of all time and the likelihood of Barca ever selling Messi reduces to almost zero.
As noted by Bleacher Report's Dean Jones and Sam Tighe, the La Masia graduate fully deserved his Ballon d'Or this year after leading Barcelona to the treble last season:
Along with Neymar and Luis Suarez, he is in the process of inspiring his side to another superlative season—Barca are in the last 16 of the Champions League, the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey and currently topping La Liga.
Elsewhere, Barcelona's ongoing pursuit of Celta Vigo forward Nolito looks to be dead in the water.
Per Sport's Lluis Mascaro, Barca's final offer was to take the 29-year-old on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy, but following Celta's rejection of the terms, no move will happen in the current transfer window.
As noted by Spanish football writer Rafael Hernandez, it seemed something of a speculative offer from Barca:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
The world most stupidest transfer deal won’t happen, Barça won’t sign Nolito: “We get your best player midseason, pay you 6 months later.”2016-1-26 18:43:00
But although Nolito would have added extra depth in the attack, the failure of the bid is not a complete disaster, as Munir El Haddadi and Arda Turan currently represent decent cover for manager Luis Enrique's undisputed starting trio.