Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Barcelona are pushing for Lionel Messi to sign a new contract before his current deal runs out on 1 July.

Contrary to reports, not everything has been agreed upon, but in the past 24 hours, the club has raised the level of urgency shown in previous weeks, with a desire to announce the agreement before the start of next month.

Messi’s contract renewal is new president Joan Laporta’s main priority and he is currently negotiating it directly with Messi’s father and representative, Jorge Messi.

To be able to keep the Argentine, the club will have to reduce their wage bill by around 200m euros (£172m) and to meet La Liga’s Financial Fair Play requirements.

Laporta is happy to offer the 34-year-old a new two-year deal.

Barcelona think Messi would like to go to Major League Soccer in the USA after the Qatar World Cup in 2022, although they would love to see him return to the club after that in any role or capacity of his choosing.

There had been rumours coming out of the club that everything had been agreed and could all be announced on the 24 June to coincide with the player’s 34th birthday.

However, it is not just the signature that is missing but also agreement on all the points of a very complicated contract.

The club started negotiations in April and since then they have met or spoken to Messi’s representatives at least 10 times, although they have urgently accelerated the conversation in recent hours.

Messi knows of the interest from other clubs, such as Manchester City and Paris St-Germain, but up to now has not negotiated anything with them, waiting first to hear what Barcelona were offering before finalising the details of a deal that will keep him at the Nou Camp.

At the moment, there is no decision on how any possible agreement will be announced, but nobody expects any other resolution than Messi staying at the club.

Despite the physical limitations that will come with age, he would still very much like his next move after Barcelona to be to a league where he can be a relevant presence.

For years now, he and former Barca team-mate Cesc Fabregas, currently at Monaco, have dreamt of playing together again in the same team and city, something the MLS will certainly offer him in two years’ time.