After everything that happened last year, it seems Lionel Messi may yet remain at Barcelona past this summer.
The Argentine superstar demanded to leave the Catalan club for free a year before his contract runs out, calling upon a clause in the deal allowing him to do so at the end of each season. However, Barcelona, under the leadership of Josep Maria Bartomeu, refused to grant his request, claiming the clause had expired. Messi then chose not to pursue the matter in court and stayed put, but it was widely expected he would not be renewing his commitment.
However, Barcelona have gone through some heavy changes since, most notably Bartomeu being replaced by Joan Laporta as the club president, and Laporta has been putting in a strong effort to convince the 33-year-old to stay at the club where he has indisputably become an icon. Messi has scored 667 goals and provided 292 assists in 773 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona since earning first-team promotion 16 years ago.
And it seems Laporta’s efforts haven’t been fruitless. Catalan TV station TV3 reports, as relayed by AS, that Messi’s father Jorge, who also acts as his representative, has held ‘productive’ talks with Barcelona regarding a new contract.
Messi would apparently accept a new deal with reduced wages, in light of Barcelona’s ongoing struggles, but only if the contract included a role at the club he could perform following retirement from playing. They would also be willing to discuss a scenario which would see Messi stay for two more years and then leave to play in the MLS for a while, before returning to Barcelona in an off-the-pitch role.
Meanwhile, reports elsewhere continue to link Messi with a move to Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City this summer.