Thursday, May 19

The tranquility of Messi and the rush of Barcelona | America’s Soccer Cup 2021

Messi controls the ball in Argentina's game against Bolivia.
Messi controls the ball in Argentina’s game against Bolivia.DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP

Lionel Scaloni, coach of the Argentine national team, spoke with Papu Gómez before last week’s duel between Albiceleste and Paraguay in the Copa América. “You are going to play in Messi’s position,” the coach told him. And they talked about the tasks that the Sevilla player had to face. A talk in vain: the 10 wanted to play. “I do not think anyone questions the commitment of a guy who asks to be,” replies a source of concentration. Against Paraguay, Messi reached Mascherano as the player with the most matches with the Albiceleste shirt (147) and took the solo record (one more for Rosario) yesterday against Bolivia (148). “Nobody better than you to continue enlarging the legend”, celebrated the Little boss. “Proud to have been able to wear the light blue and white shirt as many times as my friend Masche,” Leo replied.

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Messi manages his minutes: no surprise. The novelty in the Argentine team is that the 10-year-old begins to become independent from the messidependencia. Papu Gómez appears, also Lo Celso, and Paredes and De Paul join, while between Lautaro Martínez and Agüero they clarify who takes over the nine. Messi is always there, of course, but more sheltered. “Our idea, from the coaching staff, is that it is not always Leo who decides the games. Obviously it is Messi and it will always be key. But he has to feel that not everything depends on him ”, explain sources from the bunker of the Argentine team. Scaloni, in any case, remembers why Rosario cannot be absent: “Leo is the one with the most blood, the one who wants to win the most and the one who hurts the most to lose.”

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They say within the Albiceleste that on the 10th, who has just turned 34 years old, he walks smiling through the Ezeiza Estate. Convinced that his team can strike in Brazil, unconcerned about his contract with Barcelona, ​​which expires this Wednesday. On the other hand, there is an alert on the other side of the pond. At Barça they tried to push the maximum so that the negotiations with the captain of the Albiceleste could come to fruition before the end of their relationship with the club. “In the Barça environment there is a bit of panic on July 1. What is not taken into account is that Leo is free to negotiate with another club since January and he has not done so “, explain sources from the offices of the Camp Nou.

The 10 is the main image of the Camp Nou façade, his figure appears on the club’s website and on the Barça entity’s Instagram account, his photo is repeated more than any other: nine of the last 24 publications. The focus is also on the sponsors. “In general, no contract is subject to the presence of Messi. Obviously, that changes with the theme of the tours ”, add the same sources. La Pulga will not disappear from the Camp Nou, nor will its name be erased from the club’s website. Of course, Barça will not be able to publish any photo of the Rosario with the next season’s shirt or sell any alliance linked to 10. Instead, they can use the image of Messi dressed in the clothing of previous campaigns.

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“The problem with Messi’s new contract is the anxiety that is generated in the club, in the press and in the environment,” they explain in the sports area. “We do not know when, but it will end up being resolved,” they add. The talks between the president, Joan Laporta, and Jorge Messi, the player’s father and representative, began in April. They agreed that the negotiations would be approached with absolute discretion. Only Mateu Alemany, football director, and Ferran Reverter, general director, are aware. Messi style, without a doubt. “They are condemned to understand each other,” says a Barça employee; “From the club they will send the message that it is very difficult to renew him and from the player’s environment they will say that he had many offers, but that he decided to stay in the club of his life. Neither one nor the other ”.

The difficulty of the new contract of 10 lies, however, in the forms. Nothing minor details in which it will surely become Messi’s last pact with Barcelona. “You have to define the duration of the contract. If he joins the first team for two years, then he has to find out what relationship he will have with the club after that period has passed. All this has a financial, economic and tax complexity ”, say sources of the negotiation. There is something that Messi is clear: he does not want problems with the Treasury. And there is something that Barça is clear about: they have to fit the 10’s salary into the legal parameters imposed by LaLiga.

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“Barcelona is in a situation similar to that of a club that is relegated to Second. It has signed contracts and needs to lower the wage bill to comply with the regulations, ”explain sources from the employer. The high departure in footballers’ salaries is not a new issue at the Camp Nou. At the limit of what is recommended, in the 2019-2020 campaign, between salaries (462 million) and amortizations (174), Barça spent 636 million, 74% with respect to income (855). The recommended limit is 70%. And in the absence of the numbers being confirmed, in the last season the Barça team invested 506 million in the first team (335 and 171). “We have the wage bill at 110% of the expected income,” Laporta announced.

“We are not going to make a rule for Messi,” said Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga. According to the employer, Barça can spend 347 million between salaries and amortizations. Last week representatives of LaLiga and Barça met. The club promised to increase revenue and lower the salary bill – it had just transferred Konrad to Marseille for 3 million and terminated Matheus’ contract.

You have no choice. While Laporta fights to sign the Rosario’s new contract, Alemany works to lower the salary bill. The president is in a hurry to announce the renewal of 10, the football director to square the numbers. Messi, however, is calm. Manage the times with Barça as the minutes in the Albiceleste.

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