Lionel Messi Could Be Blocked From Playing For Barcelona Until January

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Lionel Messi could be blocked from playing for Barcelona until January because of the club's dire financial predicament.

Though Messi is currently a free agent after his deal at the Nou Camp expired on June 30, he is reported to have agreed a new five-year contract that will see him take a 50 per cent pay cut.

But in order to register the new deal for Messi, Barca need to iron out their finances and make significant reductions to their wage bill, as per ESPN.

Although they have until August 31, transfer deadline day, to submit Messi's contract, the Blaugrana want everything sorted before they begin the league campaign against Real Sociedad on August 15.

Image: PA

If they do not comply with the spending rules which La Liga chief Javier Tebas is refusing to relax, they risk not having Messi available for selection until the start of 2022.

The same would apply to new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal.

It happened in 2014 when Getafe midfielder Pedro Leon was unable to play for the first few months of the season after the club exceeded a €17 million salary cap.

Barca have been able to offload many of their fringe players. Junior Firpo went to Leeds for £13 million, while Konrad De La Fuente and Jeanne Claire-Todibo both moved to Ligue One with Marseille and France respectively.

Matheus Fernandes, who joined for €10 million and played just 17 minutes, had his contract terminated.

But the Copa Del Rey holders are having difficulty shifting their big earners to balance the books.

Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti have both been made available for transfer yet neither are close to moving and the former's wages are a stumbling block for potential suitors in Italy.

Image: PA

Philippe Coutinho, one of the club's best-paid players on a yearly wage of €24 million, is also for sale but Barca are not keen on taking a big loss on a player who was their record signing in 2018.

A swap deal with Atletico Madrid involving Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez had been mooted but talks have not progressed due to the two clubs being far apart in terms of player valuations.

Image: PA

Griezmann is keen on a return to the Spanish capital after an underwhelming stint in Catalonia, yet does not want to take a hefty wage cut.

First-team trio Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Sergio Roberto have been asked to trim their wages for the benefit of the club but have not agreed to do so yet.

Josh Lawless

Josh is a sports journalist who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field - including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.
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