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Lionel Messi wants to stay at Barcelona but financial fair play regulations imposed by UEFA are holding up the agreement, claims clubs president Joan Laporta.
The 33-year-old is into the final two weeks of his contract at the Camp Nou and on 30 June will become a free agent, unless he puts pen to paper on a new deal.
The Argentine superstar has spent the entirety of his professional career at the Blaugrana and if he does agree a new contract, he is likely to end his playing career – at least in European football – at the club.
The Catalan giants are hopeful of concluding a new agreement with the club’s best paid player, but their precarious financial position has made their position difficult.
Lionel Messi is out of contract at Barcelona on 30 June
Having already agreed deals to sign free agents Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia from Manchester City, alongside the return of Emerson Royal from Real Betis and having reportedly agreed terms to sign free agent Memphis Depay, the club’s outgoings need to be closely monitored.
Barca’s financial problems have been well documented and their levels of debt ensure that the structure of any agreement with Messi must ensure that no economic rules are broken.
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President Laporta – who was elected to his position in March – has now given an update on Messi’s future with confidence than an agreement can be sought, but more players must leave first.
Laporta has said, as per the club’s official website : “Leo Messi's boots will continue on the Camp Nou pitch. He wants to stay. I do not contemplate a no. It isn't easy. We'll do what we can.
"There is no need to seduce him, he is determined if there are a series of circumstances to stay.
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"He is OK but he hasn't signed yet. Kun Aguero tells him every day: 'Sign that, we will play together'.
"In economic terms, he has made it very easy, but financial fair play is another battleground.
"We have to follow the rules, we will follow them. There will be more sales and loans. Without paying a transfer fee. We will do a lot of loans, because we have a very high sports payroll compared to other clubs."
Messi actively tried to leave the club last summer due to a clause in his existing deal that allows him to leave at the end of any season should he so wish to do so.
However, due to the impact of the pandemic leading to a prolonged campaign the date at which he could contractually leave the club expired.
The Argentine backed down on his demands to leave the Camp Nou as he claimed he did not wish to take the club to court to force an exit, meaning that he spent this season at the club.
However, a change in presidency at the club may have prompted a change in heart of the player.