The Camp Nou side are determined to tie the Argentine icon to a new two-year deal but cannot afford his wages
La Liga president Javier Tebas says it would be “impossible” for Barcelona to offer Lionel Messi the same salary he was on last season as they look to commit him to a new contract.
The Argentina star’s contract at the Catalan side expired at the end of June, but they have not given up on giving him a two-year deal.
The Camp Nou team are unable to register any of the players they have signed this summer because of the salary limit imposed on the club, however, which is stopping them from confirming a deal for Messi.
What did Tebas say?
While Tebas acknowledged that Ronald Koeman’s side will find it hard to persuade the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to sign again, he insists no team in the continent can match the salary he was already on.
“He won’t be able to sign with the same conditions of the former contract. That would be impossible but I also don’t think any European club can pay that amount in his former contract, not just Barcelona,” Tebas said.
“The decision of whether Messi stays or goes is not up to me but Barcelona. We would like and hope that Barcelona solve the problem so Messi can stay here in Spain.
“We always want the best players in La Liga but Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo left and we are still here and growing. We continue to work and Serie A and Ligue 1 haven’t grown as much as they like [with these stars].
“The Premier League players don’t win the Ballon d’Or but it is the best competition on a sporting and financial level. We shouldn’t be obsessed with players. I would love Messi to stay but it isn’t essential.”
Tebas defends salary limit
As a result of the pandemic, Barcelona’s salary limit was set at €348m (£299m/$413m), but the club ended up exceeding that figure.
Tebas insists La Liga will not relax the limit on how much the club can spend and has defended the organisation’s rules.
“Our regulations are sufficient. It is just a real situation with the pandemic that there’s less income and more losses,” he added.
“To open up the situation would just cause more debt. We studied it a lot and think the regulation is acceptable and all clubs should abide by it. All clubs approved this regulation themselves.
“It’s not the first time in recent years that this has happened where a club signs players but can’t register the player. I am sure Barcelona will sort it out but if they don’t they won’t be able to register the players.
“The big difference between Barcelona and the pandemic is that they have always been at the limit of the wages. When the pandemic came along then they didn’t have that buffer so they wouldn’t be affected by this squad limit issue.
“No other clubs have pushed to that absolute limit. They have lost €350 million (£300m/$415m) in revenue since the pandemic, so it is not normal really, especially in our league, to push right to that last Euro in the salary limit.
“Real Madrid, their accounts say this, they had limits but they have been less affected by the pandemic because they have been able to not lose as much. They spent less on players since then, they also sent out players on loan who were on high salaries which was not the case with Barcelona. That’s the difference between the two big clubs.
“It has happened to other clubs like Manchester City who have made a €270m (£232m/$320m) loss in revenue so aren’t economically doing as well. PSG have lost €250m (£215m/$296m). All the big clubs have lost money during the pandemic and the management of Real Madrid have done fantastic during this time.
“If they have to cancel contracts, maybe it is cheaper than the money they are paying for their wage bill. I think they are on the right path. I have spoken to some of their players who know they are not taken into account for next year and want to leave. Sometimes to be released from a contract means a financially penalty.”
What about Barca’s other signings?
Barca have confirmed the signings of Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Memphis Depay and Emerson Royal this summer.
But the club will not be able to field any of them in the new season unless they drastically reduce their current wage expenses.
In order to make it easier, they have already convinced Depay to accept a 30 percent decrease to the €7m (£6m/$8m) per season they initially agreed to pay him when he joined in a free transfer.
Garcia, who agreed to join the club from Manchester City in January, has also agreed to reduce his wages under new president Joan Laporta.