Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has weighed in on speculations regarding the future of Argentine soccer icon Lionel Messi, claiming the Paris-based club might yet snag the striker.
In an interview with L'Equipe, he noted:
"Messi is at the end of his contract and all clubs have the right to talk to him and recruit him for next season.”
Despite earlier reports in Spain hinting that the winner of a record six Ballon d'Or awards is close to extending his stay at Barcelona, the Qatari businessman, chairman of Qatar Sports Investments and PSG president, struck an optimistic note.
"What I can tell you, and you can believe me, is that all great players want to come to PSG. All – just to be clear, I’m not saying that to answer you on Messi. It’s not possible to sign them all, since we have great players too. And Messi is Messi, a fantastic player," said Al-Khelaifi.
Regardless of where he goes after his contract expires on 30 June, 33-year-old Messi will have to agree to a sizeable pay cut, according to reports. If he stays with Barcelona, the club’s purported over 1billion euro in debt would demand a big drop in wages for the Argentinian.
According to the Catalan club's annual financial report, considerable debt stemms from the coronavirus pandemic as well as the club's big-money transfers in recent seasons. While the overall value of FC Barcelona is estimated at about €4 billion euros, their debt is about 30 percent of their total value.
If PSG were able to enlist Messi’s services, they would be able to offer him his current Barca salary, similarly due to a cut in revenue attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes as Catalan media reports have hinted the Argentine international is close to extending his stay at Barcelona. According to the Catalan-based daily, SPORT, the contract between Barca and Messi would include two more seasons on the field, two seasons with Inter Miami CF, and six years in an off-field role yet to be determined.
On Friday, Barcelona president, Joan Laporta i Estruch, said that “Lionel Messi’s renewal is going well”.
“It’s not a done deal... but it's going well,” he was quoted as adding.
Last year, Lionel Messi sent a fax saying that he wanted to leave the club. After then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted a clause in Messi’s 700 million euro ($853 million) contract barred him from leaving on a free transfer, the football star to opt to stay on and avoid a legal hassle.
ESPN later reported that Barca president Laporta was working on a two-year deal for Messi, with the option for an additional season.
Manchester City and PSG have been extensively linked with Messi over the last 12 months.