Report: Lionel Messi Signs 5-Year Barcelona Contract with 'Significant' Pay Cut

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2021

FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2020 file photo, Barcelona's Lionel Messi waves as he arrives at the team hotel in Lisbon, Portugal. Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club after nearly two decades with the Spanish giants. The club has confirmed that the Argentina great has sent a note expressing his desire to leave. The announcement comes 11 days after Barcelona's humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals, one of the worst in the player's career and in the club's history.(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Barcelona and club legend Lionel Messi have reportedly finalized an agreement on a new five-year contract to bring him back to the Camp Nou after he became a free agent July 1, according to Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden of ESPN.

Llorens and Marsden noted the forward will take a "significant wage reduction," while Adam Shergold of the Daily Mail reported the pay cut could be up to 50 percent to remain at the club.

The new contract also reportedly has a termination clause of £320 million ($444 million).

Messi's historic Barca career nearly came to a close last year, as he told Goal's Ruben Uria in September he'd informed then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu of his intention to leave before the club decided to enforce a disputed contract clause and uphold a €700 million ($827 million) buyout fee, which made it "impossible."

"I thought and was sure that I was free to leave; the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not," Messi said. "Now they cling to the fact that I did not say it before June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for La Liga in the middle of this awful coronavirus."

The 34-year-old continued to pace the Barcelona attack during the 2020-21 season, scoring 38 goals in 47 matches across all competitions, and Joan Laporta was elected as club's president for a second time, previously filling the role from 2003 through 2013.

Laporta's return was a "major factor" for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, who became "more open to staying throughout the course of the last year," per Marsden and Llorens.

Along with the return of Messi, the Blaugrana have upgraded the squad during the summer transfer window with the arrivals of fellow Argentine Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, among others.

The changes were necessary after Barcelona failed to reach their main goals last term, finishing third in La Liga and getting knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16.

Messi may still leave the club to finish his storied career elsewhere, but he continues to produce at an elite level and it makes sense for him to remain with Barca for as long as that remains the case.