Barcelona are eager to open contract talks with forward Lionel Messi this week to ensure he remains at the club after 2021.
The Argentine recently let a clause in his contract – which would have allowed him to leave the club for free this summer – expire, suggesting that he still sees a future for himself at Camp Nou.
Barcelona chiefs have long expressed a desire to keep Messi at the club for as long as possible, with rumours of a lifetime contract emerging. While that may not be true, Cope note that Barça intend to sit down with Messi in the coming days to begin negotiating a new deal.
The story has since been corroborated by Sport, who add that Messi is still ‘full of excitement and motivation’ to continue adding to his unparalleled legacy at Camp Nou.
The soon-to-be 33-year-old also has his sights on a few more Ballons d’Or and there is an acceptance that staying at Barcelona will likely give him the best chance to win those individual awards.
However, given his age, talks will only ever be centred around short-term extensions to his €70m-a-year deal, rather than a long-term deal.
Messi’s contract is the most pressing in the current squad, but Mundo Deportivo note that Barcelona are eager to begin working on new deals for a number of their top stars as nobody in the first team is tied to the club
past 2024 as it stands.
When it comes to the rest of the players whose contracts expire in 2021, Barcelona aren’t too fussed.
Ivan Rakitić and Arturo Vidal are up for sale, Luis Suárez can leave that summer if he doesn’t trigger his automatic extension and Riqui Puig’s deal can be extended by two years, leaving only academy midfielder Álex Collado to worry about.
However, it’s a different story for the 2022 bunch. Marc-André ter Stegen and Ansu Fati are two top priorities, while Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto also need negotiations. Nélson Semedo will be offered a new contract if he doesn’t leave this summer, and there’s also the future of Ousmane Dembélé to sort out.
As of now, the focus is on Messi, Ter Stegen, Fati and Semedo, but plans are being put in place to speak with all the others at some point down the line.