"Lionel Messi's renewal is going well. It's not done, but it's going well," Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Friday. And that's how it is. SPORT have learned that the length of the deal has been agreed -- beyond his time in the first team -- as well as the money he will receive while he continues to play, although they still need to decide what will happen when he retires after the two years he has thought about playing for Inter Miami, the club owned, in part, by David Beckham.
Two sides of the talks
Laporta would have liked the negotiations to be finished before Messi headed off for the Copa America, but tying down the Argentine to new terms is such a big deal that, despite the predisposition of all involved, it's not easy to do quickly.
Negotiations have been carried out between Joan Laporta and Leo Messi and Rafael Yuste (vice president) and Jorge Messi (Messi's dad and agent). The president and the player speak about football, about the sporting project, which is what Laporta explained is of most interest to Messi, to have a competitive team capable of winning everything. The other pair speak about money and the information flows in all directions.
10 years together
The structure of Messi's new contract will be for 10 years, as revealed by SPORT collaborator Xavi Torres on TV3. The first two years will be with Bará, so his last game could be in 2022-23. From there, he will start a new adventure in Miami for two years. After those two years, he will end his time in the United States and return to Barça, where there is nothing defined clearly yet.
According to sources consulted by this newspaper, he could be used as a global ambassador for the club, launching a series of projects around the world. Other reports suggest he could be involved in the sporting department, although his role has not been decided.
Point of friction
The numbers of Messi's contract are fairly clear: €240 million net across four seasons, two with Barça and two more when he will be an ambassador while playing in Major League Soccer. It's a dramatic drop on what he receives today, although it's eased by the fact he maintains a salary when he leaves. From there, Laporta said: "Leo really values the effort we are making." And he even said that "I am sure Leo deserves and can get much more elsewhere."
But, as with everything, there is also one point of friction: his salary once he returns to Barcelona after his playing career. They agree there should be a fixed sum plus add-ons. But Laporta wants the fixed sum to be more symbolic than anything and that the add-ons make up the bulk of his earnings. The '10' wants to increase the fixed salary. The negotiations are ongoing.