Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is officially a free agent with his Barcelona contract expiring but the Catalans say they are in the process of confirming a new deal.
The 34-year-old Argentina international’s Barcelona contract expired on June 30, amid speculation of a move away from Camp Nou which he has called home since 2000.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta conceded the situation was not ideal but said negotiations were ongoing.
“We are doing well but you have to fit a deal into the financial fair play,” Laporta told reporters on Wednesday.
“We want him to stay and we are excited for him to stay. I wish I could tell you that Leo is staying but I can’t say yet. We are in the process of finding the solution.”
Messi expressed a desire to leave Barcelona last off-season, with a growing dissatisfaction with the direction of the club on and off the field.
The Argentine remained with Barcelona bound by a clause in his contract, referred to by former president Josep Maria Bartomeu who has since been replaced by Laporta.
Messi, who is currently in Brazil with Argentina competing at Copa America 2021, is widely expected to stay at Barca.
Barcelona have spent the past 18 months attempting to trim their wage bill, having been significantly impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Messi’s previous contract, signed in 2017, was worth approximately 593 million dollars over four years.
The Argentine has won 10 La Liga and four Champions League titles during his time at Barcelona although they have not won the domestic league since 2019 and the continental crown since 2015.(dpa/NAN)