The contract renewal of Lionel Messi has been the subject of much debate in recent weeks. Pressure is growing on the board from both the squad and outside sources to begin negotiating an improved deal for the Barça number 10.
“With Messi what you have to do is give him a new contract, not have common sense,” - Luis Suárez
Messi’s teammate Luis Suárez urged Barcelona’s board to offer a new contract and it is most likely a mutual feeling from within the dressing room. The 29 year old Messi still has 18 months to run on his current deal which he signed in 2014 but the increase of pressure on the renewal has come from the influx of players to China. The money being pumped into the league has allowed Chinese clubs to spend astronomical figures on average to good players. Therefore it is right to assume a player of Messi’s quality would be offered an obscene amount of money. Messi has many times stated he wants to stay at Barça in the past but when eye-watering amounts of money are on the table, it is understandable to think his head may be turned.
It is not only Chinese investors that have got the Barça board worried. It is no secret that under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City have enquired about the availability of Messi and the prospect of reuniting with the coach that had the biggest impact on his career would be an interesting opportunity for the Argentine. City also don’t represent the sole club interested in acquiring Messi and you can imagine there would be a long line of teams willing to break the bank in order to purchase him.
The Barcelona board have said that it is a case of finances and they can’t afford to shell out huge figures just because other clubs are offering that amount. The CEO stated that it was because of La Liga’s spending caps that negotiations weren’t going as smoothly as planned. Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu ensured fans that the club were doing everything they can and that will do "everything needed” to keep hold of him.They said they needed common sense but surely common sense is to keep Messi whatever the cost?
When the player has picked up an injury we have seen glimpses of a Barcelona without Messi and there is a significant drop in quality. The old phrase of no player is bigger than the team still rings true for many clubs but it can be argued that Messi breaks this mould. He is the face of Barcelona both in a playing sense and a marketing sense.
The situation is quickly divulging into the players against the board and the heads of Barça will need to act quickly to stop it in its tracks. So while the team continue to battle for trophies on the pitch, one of the most important battles occurs off it.