Lionel Messi Reportedly to Be Offered 3-Year Contract by Barcelona

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 22: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona  during the La Liga Santander  match between FC Barcelona v Getafe at the Camp Nou on April 22, 2021 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Barcelona president Joan Laporta reportedly is preparing to offer superstar forward Lionel Messi a three-year contract extension with his current deal set to expire at the end of June.

ESPN's Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens reported Friday that Barcelona will attempt to structure the proposal—a two-year contract with a third-year option—in a way to lessen the impact of the fact the club must lower his annual salary from its current level of around €75 million.

Messi explored the potential of leaving Camp Nou after last season, but a dispute with the club about when he had the opportunity to exercise an out clause in the deal combined with a sky-high release clause (€700 million) kept him with the Spanish giants for another year.

"I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I've been telling him that all year. I believed it was time to step aside," Messi told Goal in September. "I believed that the club needed more young players, new players and I thought my time in Barcelona was over. I felt very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here."

His uncertain future became a key factor in Barcelona's presidential election in March, with Laporta returning to the role he previously held from 2003 through 2010.

"I am sure that if someone else wins the election [other than me], Messi won't stay at the club," Laporta said in early March. "I have a good relationship with him; there's a lot of respect. We'll make him an offer based on the club's situation. Maybe we can't compete financially, but Messi is not ruled by money. He wants to end his career at the highest level possible."

Per Marsden and Llorens, Laporta is "increasingly optimistic" Messi will remain with the club and is working to finance a marquee summer signing, such as Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland or Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar, to help convince the Barca legend to stay, per Marsden and Llorens.

The key external question is whether other clubs, even the other top European sides, will have enough financial flexibility to make a strong enough offer to get Messi to leave. It's part of the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and played a role in the failed effort to create the Super League.

Messi has continued to perform at an elite level despite the drama. He's recorded 25 goals and nine assists in 29 La Liga appearances and five goals in six Champions League matches.

Barcelona (68 points) are third in the La Liga table with seven fixtures remaining, but they control their own championship destiny with a game in hand on both first-place Atletico Madrid (73 points) and second-place Real Madrid (70 points) and a head-to-head meeting with Atletico still to come.