The Catalans are hoping to ensure their star remains at Camp Nou until the end of his career, but they have a few obstacles to overcome.
As talk of Lionel Messi ending his career at boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys continues to grow, Barcelona are hoping to ensure the Argentine sees out the rest of his playing days in Catalunya.
However, the Spanish side have frozen their plan to offer the Ballon d’Or holder a new contract due to how expensive it will be to keep him.
The club are hoping to put an end to any notion of Messi finishing his career anywhere other then Camp Nou and so are determined to ensure they have the best possible environment to keep their star man devoted and happy at the club.
Maintaining the happiness of the world’s best player and to ensuring the team remains suitably competitive at the highest level requires money, though, and lots of it.
First, Barca want to ensure they renew the contracts of the most important players around the 29-year-old. Neymar, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano are the latest crucial first-team members to have committed their futures to the Blaugrana. Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Andres Iniesta are the stars the club want to tie up next.
The Catalan side see the renewals as a pivotal phase of the process as they look to ensure Messi is surrounded by a team that can compete for domestic and continental titles every year until he calls time on his career.
Raising the budget is a necessity, however. Barcelona ended the last financial year with record revenues of £593 million. The club spent around £380m on wages – 64 per cent of their total budget – and the extra income saw them increase their wage budget by £35m.
The renewals of Neymar, Mascherano and Busquets have set them back a great deal and the pending extensions with the other star players will only increase the costs. Messi will be the last to sign a new contract.
Messi’s current contract is unsurprisingly incredibly expensive. Officially, he makes £28m per season across his current contract, although he’s not being paid an equal amount over his current contract due to the club’s debts.
Barcelona paid him £19m in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, but this season and 2017-18 will see him earn a bumper £36m.
The club understand that they must raise revenues to around the £900m mark by 2021 in order to hold onto their devastating MSN attacking trio, and so must raise their budget by a huge margin before they will be ready to move on to talks with Messi.
Messi, a winner of eight La Liga titles, four Champions League crowns and three Club World Cups with Barca, is contracted to the club until 2018, by which time he will be 31. However, the hierarchy at Camp Nou are determined to ensure he ends his career as a one-club player. The Argentine has been in Catalunya since 2001 and it’s a partnership that Luis Enrique and his side ensure continues for the foreseeable future.