Barcelona wants to keep Lionel Messi, who has finally won the international trophy for his national team Argentina in the Copa America final. The club’s dire financial situation is holding the club from making a transfer move for Messi. The 34-year-old’s contract at the La Liga club expired on June 30 and he is a free agent now.
Messi did not say anything about the status of his contract last month, as he led Argentina to victory at the Copa America in Brazil. And Joan Laporta, the new president of Barcelona, tried to look confident. “Everything is on track,” he told reporters, who camped outside his office last week as he and other Barcelona officials met for a solution.
But the problem is that Messi’s future can no longer rest in the hands of the player or his club. Spanish league rules limit each club’s spending to a percentage of its income, and league officials have repeatedly stated that they will not dilute their rules to benefit Barcelona, which is well above that limit.
In short, if Barcelona fails to cut 200 million euros or nearly $240 million in salary spending this summer – an almost impossible amount in a pandemic-ravaged football economy – it will not be allowed to sign any new players.
La Liga president Javier Tebas told reporters this week that Barcelona was to blame for their financial woes. Tebas said the problem was that there was no room for maneuvers in Barcelona. The league calculates individual limits for each team based on each club’s income statement, but limits spending to 70% of revenue.
“It is not normal for clubs to spend up to the last euro on the wage limit,” Tebas said. Messi’s luck is also not good. Barcelona has already announced the signing of their friend and Argentine teammate Sergio Aguero, as well as Dutch striker Memphis Depay and Spanish national team defender Eric García, for next season.
All three arrived as free agents, meaning Barcelona did not have to pay millions of dollars in transfer fees to their former clubs, but the league would not register either of them or Messi until the club was first deficient.