Barcelona Crisis Deepens After Reports Emerge Lionel Messi May Not Play For Club Before January
© REUTERS / HENRY ROMEROSoccer Football - Copa America 2021 - Group A - Argentina v Uruguay - Estadio Mane Garrincha, Brasilia, Brazil - June 18, 2021 Argentina's Lionel Messi
© REUTERS / HENRY ROMERO
Football mega star Lionel Messi's previous contract with his club of 21 years, Barcelona, expired on 30 June 2021. The 34-year-old is a free agent now and had agreed to take a 50 percent salary cut to stay with the Catalan giants, according to the terms of the agreement, multiple media reports had claimed earlier this month.
Just two weeks after Lionel Messi and Barcelona agreed a new deal after months of negotiations, the club has hit a major setback as they are unable to register the Argentina skipper's latest contract.
With only three weeks remaining before the new La Liga season starts, Barcelona finds itself in a major crisis as time is running out for the iconic club to secure Messi's place in the team for the forthcoming season.
According to ESPN, Barcelona's financial crisis has worsened after their attempts to reduce their wage bill failed and the club is struggling to meet the La Liga's spending limits.
Their lack of success in achieving a significant salary cut has put their new deal with Messi at a massive risk.
And it's not only Messi who is at risk: Barcelona could potentially lose out on the likes of Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal if they fail to make any headway in their efforts.
Messi's new deal has to be registered by 31 August, the last day of the summer transfer window.
But Barcelona would prefer to register his contract well before 15 August, when they open their league campaign against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.
Long before Messi agreed to sign a new deal with his childhood club, La Liga president Javier Tebas had warned Barcelona about their rising wage bill.
Tebas was adamant that he would not make any concessions for the 26-time league champions.
With the crisis now escalating, Barcelona may not see Messi playing for them until January and the only way to change the prevailing situation is to clean their finances.
If Messi is unable to play for Barcelona until next year, he will find himself in an exclusive group of players, including Getafe's Pedro Leon, who have been unable to play for their club despite signing contracts.
Pedro faced a similar situation in 2014.
Barcelona has offloaded a number of youngsters of late, including United States international Konrad de la Fuente but haven't succeeded in getting rid of the big names, who earn millions in annual wages.
A deal with Atletico Madrid to swap Antoine Griezmann with their midfielder Saul Niguez has also stalled.
And talks with other senior players such as Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto have failed to result in much progress regarding a significant pay cut. Busquets earns approximately $19 million in yearly wages, and Alba and Roberto receive respectively $15 million and $12.5 million a year from the club.
The biggest stumbling block for Barcelona, though, has been Griezmann.
According to ESPN, Griezmann isn't willing to reduce his annual pay of $41 million, which has made things difficult for the club as Atletico is not interested in paying such a huge amount for him.
The only way left for Barcelona is to make significant contributions towards his salary, something Atletico has been demanding for a long time.
Such a move though, wouldn't be unusual for them as they have done something similar in the past. Luis Suarez, who joined the same club last year almost had an identical deal.
On the other hand, Barcelona has already conveyed to Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti that they are no longer needed at the club, but when the duo will leave Camp Nou is not yet known.
Like Griezmann, Pjanic doesn't want a pay cut.
Brazilian Philippe Coutinho, whose yearly wages are around $28 million, is another big name Barcelona is planning to sell this season.
But the club is in two minds because they paid a staggering $167 million, when they bought Coutinho from Liverpool back in 2018 and don't want to sell him at a much lower price.
Former Indian midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi believes that time was indeed running out for Barcelona.
"Not having Messi in their line-up could be disastrous for Barcelona. They already have had two consecutive seasons without much success on the field and a third season without any silverware would put more strain on their finances," Nabi told Sputnik on Friday.
"Messi is not just a player and captain for Barca, he is their emotional force as well. Also, he brings a tremendous amount of financial muscle with him, and Barcelona would miss out on these things, if he is not there with them," he added.