Lionel Messi ends speculation about his future as he ‘agrees to massive pay cut to sign five-year Barcelona deal‘’

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Lionel Messi of Argentina kisses the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after winning the final of Copa America Brazil 2021 between Brazil and Argentina at Maracana Stadium on July 10, 2021 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Lionel Messi looks sure to end his career with Barcelona amid reports that the six-time Ballon d'Or winning star has agreed to take a sizeable pay cut in order to ink a new five-year contract with the cash-strapped Catalan giants.

Less than a year since Messi put European football's elite on high alert after announcing his desire to leave Barcelona, the Argentina icon appears to have completed a very public about-face by agreeing terms to the new contract which will tie him to the Camp Nou for the next five seasons – a deal that will reportedly see his annual salary nosedive by as much as 50 percent, according to a reports.

Messi's previous Barcelona deal expired on June 30, meaning that the world's most high-profile player was free to discuss terms with a host of other European clubs, with both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain thought to have been more than interested in securing his services. IMG-20210714-181110-038

The re-election of Joan Laporta as Barcelona president earlier this year is thought to have been crucial in Messi's decision to remain with the club, with Laporta's campaign largely built on a platform of convincing the club's record scorer to extend his 20-year stay.

However, the situation was a more complicated one than simply coaxing an agreement from Messi. Barcelona have significant debt which has been blamed on the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, although some of the gargantuan contracts handed out to a lengthy list of underperforming stars has also played a hand in the club's financial woes.

Such was the state of Barcelona's financial affairs that LaLiga chief Javier Tebas had threatened to forbid Barcelona from registering new contracts – potentially including Messi's – unless some sizeable cuts were made elsewhere in their budget to comply with the Spanish league's financial fair play guidelines.

It is thought that pay reduction will go some way to help reducing Barcelona's debt, but further cuts are expected to go through before LaLiga agrees to the registration of Messi and other new signings such as Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Memphis Depay and Emerson Royal.

Several of Barcelona's top earners, such as Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho and Miralem Pjanic are understood to be available for transfer as Barcelona look to reduce their wage bill in order to fall in line with LaLiga's financial requirements.

Messi is currently on holiday with his family after he helped Argentina win the Copa America last weekend – his first major piece of silverware in international football – and is expected to report back for pre-season training in the coming weeks.  IMG-20210714-181047-665

The icon has played an incredible 778 games for Barcelona throughout his career, holding the club's official appearance record as well as scoring 672 times.

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