Lionel Messi not yet return to Barcelona amid contract negotiationsAugust 3, 2021
Lionel Messistill not yet returned to training with Barcelona as the wait for him to sign his new contract with the club goes on.
Barca’s first-team squad remain in Germany, where they have been training for the past week, ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against FC Salzburg.
Except injured players and the trio involved in the Olympic Games, the only members of the squad not involved in the trip are those who reached the Copa America final in
Summer signing Sergio Aguero was expected to start preseason on Monday following three weeks off but returned a few days early and has been working individually at the club’s Barcelona training base since Friday.
Brazil defender Emerson Royal, meanwhile, underwent COVID-19 and medical checks on Monday ahead of returning to training this week.
Monday would also have marked the day Messi was due back in, three weeks after Argentina beat Brazil in the Copa America final, but sources have told ESPN the club and the player have decided to delay his start date.
As a free agent, the forward would be allowed to use the club’s facilities, as long as adequate insurance is in place, but the decision has been made to wait until his new deal is signed.
Sources told ESPN the club are working hard in the hope of getting it over the line before the Joan Gamper Trophy on Sunday, when Barca host Juventus.
Messi’s contract with Barca expired on June 30, technically ending his 21-year relationship with the club. However, ESPN reported in July that he has reached an agreement in principle to sign a new five-year deal.
Lionel Messi has yet to rejoin Barcelona for preseason training. Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
The hold-up has been caused by Barca’s financial problems. The club must reduce their wage bill and bring in money from transfers to comply with LaLiga’s spending limits and register the new contract.
On Monday, Barcelona president Joan Laporta insisted there was no new news.
“We’re doing what’s possible,” he said. “It’s still not sorted but it’s progressing well. We’ll do everything for Messi to continue at the club. He wants to stay. It’s progressing as it must, but there are some matters that need to be clarified which are important for both parties.”
Meanwhile, talks continue with the representatives of Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique over wage deferrals. Sources have told ESPN there’s a willingness on both sides to reach an agreement but further negotiations are required.
And Laporta opened the door for youngster Ilaix Moriba to leave the club if he wants to. Barca have offered the midfielder a new contract, with his current terms up in 2022, but there is no agreement yet.
“The Ilaix situation can’t be repeated, a player developed by the club waiting for the final year of his deal to force the situation,” Laporta warned.
“He doesn’t want to renew with the conditions offered by the club. We cannot accept that, so we must send a message. He’s a great player but if he doesn’t renew there are other solutions. I feel bad but the club comes first.
“I ask him and his people to reconsider and come to an agreement. We’re not going to promote a player [by playing him this season] for him to move to another club for free [in 2022]. I don’t understand why he doesn’t recognise what Barca have done for him. Whoever wants to leave is free to do so — with certain conditions, of course.”
Messi, 34, returned to Barcelona last week following time off in Miami and the Dominican Republic after winning his first senior trophy in international football. The Catalan club’s security staff met him at the city’s El-Prat airport.
He then spent the weekend in Ibiza with Atletico Madrid’s Luis Suarez, Monaco’s Cesc Fabregas and their respective families as the wait to resolve his Barca future goes on.
Barca kick off the new season Aug. 15, when they host Real Sociedad in LaLiga