This is not a practice match between Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. One of the best players in the world is now a free agent.
Lionel Messi’s contract has expired a year after his failed effort to leave Barcelona.
The Argentine superstar’s contract expired at midnight, and despite months of speculation, he has yet to commit to a new contract.
Messi is said to be in talks over a new deal, which means he may decide to stay at the Nou Camp.
But, for the time being, he is accessible for nothing.
Next season, where will Messi play?
Barcelona has “increased the level of urgency” in contract talks, according to Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague, with the intention of announcing a new two-year deal before the start of July.
The club began negotiations in April and has met or spoken with Messi’s representatives at least ten times since then.
“Barcelona is pushing for a rapid settlement,” Balague added, “but there are still things to resolve, and no news is expected on Thursday.”
“They want him to sign as soon as possible, but the timings will be dictated by the resolution of all the details that have yet to be agreed – such as tax issues, Messi’s wages, and fitting the new contract within La Liga’s financial fair play rules – to keep the Argentine, the club will have to reduce their wage bill by around 200 million euros (£172 million) to keep him.”
“Both parties have synergy, and Messi hasn’t listened to any other club yet.”
The 34-year-old has been linked with moves to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, where he would reconnect with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, as well as Major League Soccer in the United States.
He is now in Brazil for the Copa America, where he became Argentina’s most-capped player when he made his 148th appearance against Bolivia on Tuesday, scoring twice and setting up another in a 4-1 victory.
The timeline of Lionel Messi’s transfers
August 25, 2020 – Messi sends the club a fax stating that he desires to utilize a clause in his contract that allows him to leave for free immediately.
September 4th, 2020 – Messi claims he will stay at Barcelona because any team would find it “impossible” to pay his 700 million euro (£624 million) release clause, which the club insists must be paid.
The date is October 27, 2020. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigns after a spat with Lionel Messi over a failed transfer request.
28th of December, 2020 Messi says he wishes to play in the United States one day, but he is undecided about his future after his current deal expires.
The year 2021 begins on the 31st of January. Barcelona has threatened to take “necessary legal measures” against the Spanish publication El Mundo for publishing details of Messi’s £492 million four-year contract.
16th of May, 2021 – After a 2-1 defeat against Celta Vigo destroyed their title chances and saw them finish outside the top two for the first time since 2007-08, manager Ronald Koeman expressed his hope that Messi will not play his final home game for the club.
22nd of May, 2021 – Messi’s contract situation is said to be “closely scrutinized” by Paris St-Germain.
28th of May, 2021 – Lionel Messi’s new deal is “not done yet,” according to Barcelona president Joan Laporta, but “things are progressing nicely.”
Messi’s Barcelona contract expires on July 1, 2021, and he becomes a free agent.